Cocolalla man pleads guilty in Smith slaying

Print Article

SANDPOINT — A Cocolalla man pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree murder for the shooting death of Michael Wyatt Smith.

Austin Blake Thrasher is scheduled to be sentenced on April 16. He remains jailed with bail set at $500,000. Thrasher also pleaded guilty to an unrelated felony theft charge.

Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall is recommending a sentence of 25 years to life on the murder charge, court documents indicate. Chief Public Defender Isabella Robertson is free to argue for a lesser sentence, according to the terms of a plea agreement in the case.

The state is recommending a fixed, two-year sentence on the theft charge, which arose from a Ponderay pawn shop burglary. It would run concurrently with the sentence imposed for Smith’s killing.

Thrasher, 20, shot Smith to death with a handgun in the fall of 2011, but his murder remained a well-kept secret until Thrasher was arrested in connection with the Pawn Now burglary in early 2012.

Smith, 19, was allegedly slain because he was dating a 16-year-old Clark Fork girl that Thrasher was also seeing.

Word of the killing slipped after Thrasher, his wife and another Clark Fork teen were arrested for a pawn shop burglary in which numerous firearms were taken.

Christopher Robin Garlin disclosed knowledge of Smith’s killing while in custody and Jennifer Dunnagan Thrasher led sheriff’s detectives to a makeshift grave containing Smith’s body, court records state.

Garlin, also 19, and Jennifer Thrasher, 23, were charged with being accessories to Smith’s murder because they initially withheld knowledge of the killing. They were also prosecuted in U.S. District Court for the Pawn Now break-in.

Attorneys for Garlin and Jennifer Thrasher reached plea agreements which aim to resolve their federal and state cases.

Jennifer Thrasher received concurrent two-year sentences. Garlin is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court for the firearms thefts on Feb. 19. A sentencing date in his accessory-to-murder case is pending.

The plea agreement unveiled on Monday in Austin Thrasher’s case suggests the state possessed considerable leverage during plea negotiations.

In exchange for his pleas, the prosecution agreed not to file additional charges in connection with his sexual relationship with the Clark Fork teen. Those charges could have included statutory rape, lewd and lascivious conduct, and possession of child pornography.

The state further agreed not to file statutory rape and unlawful sexual conduct charges for a relationship Austin Thrasher allegedly had with a 15-year-old girl in exchange for an admission of guilt in Smith’s killing.

Austin Thrasher nervously bounced his shackled leg as his plea hearing got under way. First District Judge Barbara Buchanan methodically asked him if he understood his rights and the consequences of his plea.

“Yes, your honor,” Thrasher politely said.

Buchanan accepted the plea as being entered knowingly and voluntarily.

In his written plea, Austin Thrasher wrote:

“I have remorse for the crimes I am guilty of.”

Print Article

Read More News

Senate committee OKs distracted driving legislation

February 24, 2018 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee A bill that would ban all use of mobile devices for drivers in Idaho, with few exceptions, has been passed by a Senate committee and sent for amendments per sponsor’s request. During the Idaho Senat...

Comments

Read More

Panel nixes bill to raise tobacco use age

February 24, 2018 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee An Idaho Senate panel has rejected a bill to raise the age to purchase and use tobacco products to 21-years-old. The bill before the Senate State Affairs Committee, SB 1255, was the second attempt a...

Comments

Read More

TidyHut topic of March inventors’ meeting

February 24, 2018 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee SANDPOINT — When camping, attending a festival or other event, it is not easy to ignore the state of the portable toilets that typically adorn those venues. Erik Nelson of Spokane decided to take hi...

Comments

Read More

McDonald is seeking second term

February 24, 2018 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee SANDPOINT — Incumbent Republican Bonner County Commissioner Dan McDonald contends he is unique in today’s political environment in that there are so few candidates have the ability or integrity to de...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 263-9534
PO Box 159
Sandpoint, ID 83864

©2018 Bonner County Daily Bee Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X