Lewd conduct suspect enters not guilty plea

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SANDPOINT — A Bonner County man accused of lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor pleaded not guilty on Monday.

Elijah Zachariah Nuss’ plea sets the stage for a four-day jury trial in 1st District Court in April.

Nuss, 34, is charged with having sex with a 14-year-old girl in the summer of 2015, although the alleged victim told investigators that she and Nuss had a sexual relationship that went on for several years, according to court documents.

In a related case, a Bonner County mother was sentenced on Tuesday for allegedly attempted to influence or thwart the testimony of a witness in the case against Nuss.

The state recommended jail, while the defense recommended probation in the case against Melanie Lynn Taylor, 33.

Taylor also asked for probation, telling the court that her home was broken into several times and invaded by squatters while she was incarcerated on a felony witness intimidation charge, which was reduced to bribing a witness in exchange for a plea, court records show.

Taylor is accused of urging the witness not to cooperate with investigators.

Magistrate Court Judge Debra Heise called Taylor an “enigma,” according to court documents. Heise noted that Taylor acquitted herself well during other court proceedings, which didn’t square with her alleged actions in the witness tampering case.

Heise imposed a 50-day jail sentence with 38 days suspended and credit for seven days of pretrial incarceration. Taylor was also ordered to perform 40 hours of service on the sheriff’s inmate labor program, court records show.

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