Utt released after alibi emerges

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SANDPOINT — The mystery surrounding the shooting death of Shirley Ann Ramey deepened on Wednesday.

A first-degree murder charge against Nathan Lane Utt was dismissed Wednesday due to the emergence of an alibi that places him outside the state when Ramey was shot to death in her home on Trestle Creek Road on Wednesday, according to Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall. Utt was apparently in Eugene, Ore., when Ramey was slain.

“Detectives were able to check his alibi and confirm his story. At this time there are too many questions to hold Mr. Utt. Detectives will continue to run down leads as well as hopefully confirm with video Mr. Utt’s location during the time of the murder and be able to clear him fully,” Marshall said on Wednesday.

Marshall moved to dismiss the case against Utt and Judge Debra Heise granted the motion on Wednesday, according to court documents. The case against Utt was dismissed without prejudice, which enables the state to re-file the charge if new evidence comes to light.

Utt, 41, fell under suspicion after investigators discovered footprints in the newly graded road which led from the Ramey’s home to a trailer Utt had been staying in. He was also seen hitchhiking in the area around the time Shirley Ramey was killed.

Investigators have ruled out Ramey’s husband as a suspect. Daryl Ramey voluntarily consented to gunshot residue tests, turned over clothes he had been wearing and has cooperated with investigators, court records show.

Daryl Ramey told investigators that he discovered his wife unresponsive on the floor of their home after returning from playing cards with friends at a senior center.

Emergency medical personnel discovered Shirley Ramey had been shot in the head.

Shirley Ramey, 78, was found in a kitchen area near a sliding glass door. Two 9-millimeter shell casings were discovered on a deck, according to court documents. She was killed sometime between 11 a.m. and shortly before 5 p.m., court documents state.

Court records suggest Ramey, a retired clerk for the city of Hope, was shot after opening the door. Burglary appears to have been ruled out as a motive in the case because detectives determined nothing had been taken after a thorough examination of the scene.

Sheriff’s officials said the investigation remains active and other leads that have been developed are still being examined. They also recommend that residents in the area remain vigilant. Those with information about the case are urged to contact Bonner Dispatch at 265-5525. Tips can also be reported anonymously at 208-255-COPS.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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