SANDPOINT — A felony sex case pending against a former Bonner County couple appears to be expanding as plea negotiations get under way.
As a result, Ernest Ray Johnson III and Heidi Julia Johnson’s trial in 1st District Court is being postponed until April.
Ernest Johnson is charged with lewd conduct and sexual abuse of a minor. Heidi Johnson is charged with felony injury to a child for allegedly failing to protect the alleged victim from her husband.
Ernest Johnson, 32, is free on $75,000 bail. Heidi Johnson, 29, is free on $20,000 bail.
Ernest Johnson is accused of repeatedly molesting the girl from 2008 to 2010, when she was between the ages of 8 and 11. His wife is accused of allowing the child to be placed in a situation that would endanger her.
The couple was originally scheduled to be tried this month, but the state and their respective defense attorneys filed a motion to continue due to issues with witness availability, according to court documents.
“In addition, the State has indicated new charges would be filed related to the above cases, and there is a possibility of a resolution, but the parties need time to negotiate,” Prosecutor Louis Marshall, and defense attorneys Serra Woods and Isabella Robertson said in the stipulated motion to continue.
The couple was originally set to be tried separately, although their cases were subsequently consolidated.