Kootenai murder case resuming

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SANDPOINT — Criminal proceedings are resuming against a Washington state man accused of stabbing a cab driver to death in Bonner County, court records show.

Jacob Corban Coleman was charged with first-degree murder in connection with the Aug. 28 slaying of Gagandeep Singh in Kootenai, but the case against him was suspended after questions were raised about his fitness to proceed.

The defense moved for a mental health evaluation due to unspecified remarks Coleman made to sheriff’s investigators after Singh was killed. However, it was revealed during a status hearing in Bonner County Magistrate Court on Friday that Coleman understand the proceedings against him and is capable of assisting counsel with his defense. Chief Public Defender Janet Whitney did not contest the evaluation’s findings, court records show.

Coleman’s fitness to proceed sets the stage for an Oct. 11 preliminary hearing. He remains held at the Bonner County Jail without bond.

Coleman, a 19-year-old from Puyallup, told investigators that he flew from Seattle to Spokane on the day of the killing intending to attend at Gonzaga University, although school officials said he was not enrolled as a student.

The setback, in Coleman’s words, caused him to “spiral down” and he grew alternately homicidal and suicidal, according to probable cause hearing testimony.

Coleman directed Singh, a 19-year-old from Spokane, to Hope so he could visit a friend, but had the cabbie first stop at the Ponderay Walmart, where he purchased a knife. Coleman told investigators that the Hope destination was a ruse designed to lure Singh to a sparsely populated area.

Singh ultimately drove to Clark Fork before doubling back to Kootenai, where the stabbing occurred.

Coleman said to a detective that he told Singh he was suicidal, prompting Singh to try and obtain a phone number so Coleman’s parents could be alerted. Coleman was adamant that his parents not be alerted and struck Singh in the ribcage with the knife, he told a sheriff’s detective.

Singh fought back, but was ultimately overcome by his injuries. Coleman told investigators that he broke off the attack when Singh began speaking to him. By Coleman’s account, the two talked for “several hours” as Singh bled out, probable cause hearing testimony indicates.

Coleman was found covered in blood inside the minivan cab with Singh at his feet, court records state.

In addition to the murder charge, Coleman faces a sentencing enhancement for using a deadly weapon during the commission of the crime.

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

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