SANDPOINT — A Nampa murder suspect who gave authorities the slip in Bonner County last year was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison, according to a news report published by the Idaho Press-Tribune.
James Patrick Mancuso will have to serve at least 10 years in prison before he can be considered for parole, the newspaper reported. He was charged with second-degree murder in connection with the stabbing death of Robert L. Stevens on March 10, 2016. Stevens, 30, was partially disemboweled after being stabbed in the lower abdomen, according to media accounts.
Mancuso and Ashley Nicoli Ford turned up in Kootenai on March 23, but evaded law enforcement and allegedly stole a vehicle to effect their getaway.
Ford was apprehended in Las Vegas in May 2016, while Mancuso was arrested in Spokane County in June 2016.
Mancuso pleaded guilty to the murder charge and was sentenced in 3rd District Court in Caldwell.
Stevens was stabbed after Ford and Mancuso asked Stevens for $5,000, which Mancuso claimed was needed to hire an attorney in Ford’s child custody case, the Press-Tribune reported.
Mancuso said he was acting in self-defense when he lashed out at Stevens with the knife. Mancuso told the court he believed Stevens had a handgun in the pocket of his hooded sweatshirt.
“I just didn’t want to die,” Mancuso was quoted telling Judge Davis VanderVelde.
A gun was not recovered, although investigators determined Stevens was in possession of a knife, according to the news report.
Canyon County Deputy Prosecutor Anne Voss recommended a lengthy prison term due to Mancuso’s criminal background, which includes four prior felonies. Mancuso was convicted of felony eluding and possession of a stolen vehicle in Bonner County in 2004, according to the Idaho Supreme Court Data Repository. He also has a burglary conviction in Bonner County which dates back to 2003.
Mancuso’s defense counsel, Randy Grove, said his client showed progress since being released from prison.
VanderVelde was unmoved, however,
“Given your past behavior, you’ve become more violent,” the judge told Mancuso during the sentencing. “I believe you’re a high risk to the community.”
Ford is charged with harboring a fugitive, a felony. A status conference in her case is set for March 14.
Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @ KeithDailyBee.