Riley Sills

Riley Sills

A not guilty plea was entered for Riley Sills on Wednesday morning in Teton County District Court.

Sills is in Teton County Jail charged with attempted murder in the second degree after police said he stabbed a man Dec. 30 outside his Jackson apartment. He was then the subject of a lengthy, overnight standoff with police that went well into the afternoon on New Year’s Eve.

In previous court hearings the Jackson man has said he’s innocent. Through public defender Elisabeth Trefonas, Sills asked the court Wednesday to reconsider his bond, which is $250,000 cash.

Prosecutors argued that Sills’ bond shouldn’t be lowered.

“This was a violent attack that could have easily taken the victim’s life,” Teton County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Clay Kainer said.

Kainer reminded Judge Timothy Day that Sills was on supervised probation for two other felonies when the stabbing happened.

At a preliminary hearing in January, Jackson police Detective Amanda White testified that the victim heard Sills say, “You die! You die!” just before the stabbing.

Police said Sills allegedly attacked Benjamin Sanchez-Nieto the night of Dec. 30 as he was getting home from work. Sanchez-Nieto lives near Sills, but they don’t know each other, according to police.

Sanchez-Nieto, 53, told Sills to get away and threatened to call the cops. White testified that at first Sanchez-Nieto thought Sills punched him in the chest, but realized he’d been stabbed and called 911 as Sills ran back up to his apartment.

Sanchez-Nieto was taken to St. John’s Health and then to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, where he was treated for the stab wound, which police said was from a knife between four and seven centimeters.

When Jackson police Sgt. Phil Smith contacted Sills not long after the stabbing, Sills threatened to kill Smith, court records state.

Police said Sills then barricaded himself inside his apartment, triggering the standoff with town officers and county deputies.

Officials on scene used cellphones and loudspeakers to try to negotiate with Sills throughout the night and the next day. But they kept their distance because of erratic behavior and worrisome statements Sills made, including one about him using mercury to make gold.

Police evacuated 16 people overnight for their safety. Sills was eventually taken into custody by a specialized tactical team.

Wednesday’s hearing was the court’s second attempt at the arraignment. Last week Sills refused to leave his cell for his court hearing, a deputy told Day, so Day rescheduled the arraignment.

On Wednesday, Day didn’t lower the bond and set Sills’ jury trial for July.

Contact Emily Mieure at 732-7066 or

Emily Mieure covers criminal justice and emergency news. She also leads the News&Guide’s investigative efforts. She has reported for WDRB TV in Louisville, Ky., WFIE TV in Evansville, Ind., and WEIU TV in Charleston, Ill.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Please note: Online comments may also run in our print publications.
Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Please turn off your CAPS LOCK.
No personal attacks. Discuss issues & opinions rather than denigrating someone with an opposing view.
No political attacks. Refrain from using negative slang when identifying political parties.
Be truthful. Don’t knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be proactive. Use the “Report” link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with us. We’d love to hear eyewitness accounts or history behind an article.
Use your real name: Anonymous commenting is not allowed.
The News&Guide welcomes comments from our paid subscribers. Tell us what you think. Thanks for engaging in the conversation!

Thank you for reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.