SANDPOINT — A Bonner County woman was ordered to serve up to 10 years in prison Tuesday for bludgeoning her boyfriend to death after allegedly suffering years of physical and psychological abuse.
Linda Carol Provo-Buxton will have to serve at least four years of the sentence before she can be released on parole, according to the terms of the sentence imposed by 1st District Judge Barbara Buchanan.
Provo-Buxton, 54, is accused of inflicting fatal blunt-force trauma on Jeffrey Lester Newton at their shared residence on West Spring Creek Road on Oct. 16, 2015. She was originally charged with second-degree murder, although the charge was amended to voluntary manslaughter amid plea negotiations in the case.
Friends and family of Provo-Buxton testified Tuesday that they expected to receive news that Newton had finally killed her in an escalating cycle of domestic abuse.
“I was shocked when I heard that it was the other way around,” said Provo-Buxton’s sister, Danielle Smith.
Smith emotionally recalled watching Newton slam her older sister’s head into the dashboard of a vehicle on one occasion and throwing her against the side of a vehicle on another.
Provo-Buxton had mostly refrained from calling on authorities when Newton became violent out of a mixture of fear that it would further escalate the pattern of abuse and minimization of the abuse itself, family and friends told the court.
Neighbor Dan Powell said Provo-Buxton sought refuge at his place during Newton’s violent episodes and had seen the injuries Newton allegedly inflicted upon her. Powell said Newton threatened him for getting involved.
“He was a bully,” said Powell, an 83-year-old Korean war veteran who warned Newton that he could expect a lethal response if Newton acted on the threat.
On the day Newton was killed, Provo-Buxton’s daughter said she received a call from her mother asking to be picked up at Holiday Shores in Hope. Provo-Buxton made cryptic statements, but did not specify the source of her guilt.
“I did something bad. I did something horrible,” Lacey Christensen recalled her mother saying at the time.
The two spent the day driving around the greater Sandpoint area with extended stops in parking lots that ultimately brought them closer to the Bonner County Jail.
“She wanted to turn herself in,” said Christensen.
Provo-Buxton’s acceptance of responsibility for killing Newton and decision to forego a self-defense argument despite being the victim of years of abuse were counted as mitigating factors during the sentencing hearing.
“I clearly see that as how remorseful she was for what she did,” Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall said.
Marshall said there was no denying that Newton had violently abused Provo-Buxton. At the time of his death, he was being prosecuted for a Labor Day beating that required medical treatment.
Marshall added that he’d received calls from people who felt Newton “got what was coming to him,” although Idaho law doesn’t permit vigilantism. He recommended a five- to 10-year term to deter others from meting out their own forms of justice.
Chief Public Defender Janet Whitney said her client was finally pushed over the edge after years of physical abuse that was an open secret.
“She was driven to commit it,” said Whitney, who recommended a four- to 10-year term.
Provo-Buxton said she was devastated by her actions and consumed with regret over an act she cannot undo. She also admitted that she still loves Newton and refused to drag him through the mud because he’s already dead.
“I cannot possibly feel worse than I do,” Provo-Buxton said in her address to the court.
There was no victim impact statement delivered in court, although Newton’s daughter provided a statement during the presentence investigation. The presentencing document is not open to public review.
Buchanan agreed to bind herself to the plea agreement and commended the state and the defense for developing a pact that ultimately took a hard look at all the circumstances in the case. Buchanan personally recalled a case in which Newton attacked Provo-Buxton with a framing hammer.
Buchanan adopted the defense’s sentencing recommendation.
“Given all the factors that is a fair sentence in this case,” Buchanan said.
Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.