Death penalty mulled in murder

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Coleman

SANDPOINT — Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall has been given more time to contemplate whether a death sentence should be sought against a Washington state man accused of stabbing a cab driver to death in Kootenai last summer.

Marshall filed a motion on Jan. 11 asking for a 45-day extension to file notice of intent to seek the death penalty against Jacob Corban Coleman. Chief Public Defender Janet Whitney joined the request, according to documents filed in 1st District Court.

“Said stipulation is entered into for purpose of allowing the parties to research potential mitigating factors,” Marshall and Whitney said in the motion.

Judge Barbara Buchanan granted the request, court records show.

Coleman, a 20-year-old from Puyallup, is charged with one count of first-degree murder for the slaying of Gagandeep Singh on Aug. 28, 2017. Coleman stabbed Coleman inside Singh’s minivan taxicab and stayed with Singh as he slowly bled to death, according court documents and prior testimony in the case.

A motive for the crime remains elusive. Sheriff’s investigators who interviewed Coleman after the killing said he began experiencing suicidal and homicidal urges after his plans to attend Gonzaga University fell through. Investigators said Coleman ultimately resolved to kill Singh and had the man drive to the Walmart in Ponderay so he could purchase the knife that was used in the killing.

Singh was stabbed more than 20 times during the blitz, a coroner’s report revealed.

Coleman’s fitness to proceed in the case was briefly in doubt, although a doctor who examined Coleman concluded that he understood the charge against him and could assist in his own defense.

Coleman was ordered to stand trial following a preliminary hearing in which a detective recalled Coleman saying he attacked Singh “like a feral animal.”

Coleman pleaded not guilty to the murder charge last November, setting the stage for a four-day jury trial in February. A pretrial hearing in the case is set for Friday.

Coleman is being held without bond while the case is pending.

Prosecuting attorneys in Idaho have 60 days after the entry of a plea to notify the court and the defense to file a notice of intent to seek the death penalty, according to Idaho Code. If the state does not intend to seek death, potential jurors will be advised during selection that the death penalty is not a sentencing option.

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

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