Garlin enters plea in Smith murder case

SANDPOINT — A Clark Fork teen entered an Alford plea Monday to an accessory-to-murder charge in 1st District Court.

Under the plea, Christopher Robin Garlin admits no wrongdoing. However, his plea will be treated no differently than a standard plea of guilt when he is sentenced on Jan. 22, 2013.

Garlin, 19, remains in custody at the Bonner County Jail.

Garlin allegedly witnessed Austin Blake Thrasher shoot Michael Wyatt Smith to death in Cocolalla last year.

Garlin and Thrasher’s wife, Jennifer, are accused of withholding information about the slaying for about four months. Jennifer Thrasher is also charged with accessory to murder.

Austin Thrasher is charged with first-degree murder, although his case is on hold because he has been deemed unable to assist in his own defense due to mental health issues.

Austin Thrasher, 20, was in the custody of the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare, although the agency filed a motion for him to be examined by a neuropsychologist in Boise. Judge Steve Verby granted the motion on Oct. 25.

The public record does not indicate why the department is moving for the evaluation.

Garlin, according to court records, allegedly confessed to witnessing the shooting earlier this year, when he and the Thrashers were arrested in connection with an unrelated pawn shop burglary in Ponderay.

Garlin and Jennifer Thrasher were prosecuted in federal court and pleaded guilty to stealing more than 30 firearms from a licensed dealer’s inventory. Austin Thrasher is charged in state court with burglary and grand theft, although that case is also on hold.

Jennifer Thrasher, 23, was sentenced last month to two years in prison for the Pawn Now heist. Her accessory case in state court is pending with a pretrial conference set for Thursday.

Garlin is scheduled to be sentenced in his federal case on Jan. 13, 2013.

A proposed plea agreement in Garlin’s accessory case calls for the sentence to run concurrently with his sentence in the federal case. The sentence recommendations in the federal case remain filed under seal.

The state and the defense seek to make Garlin’s plea agreement binding upon the court.

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