Thrasher pleads on gun charges

SANDPOINT — A Bonner County woman implicated in the murder of a Hope man pleaded guilty to an unrelated federal firearms theft charge on Wednesday.

Jennifer Stephen Thrasher faces up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and three years of supervised release. She is scheduled to be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene on Oct. 26.

Thrasher, 23, pleaded guilty to stealing 33 firearms from Pawn Now in Ponderay in December of last year.

An alleged accomplice in the theft, Christopher Robin Garlin, 18, of Clark Fork, is also charged with a federal firearms theft offense and faces trial on Oct. 22, according to U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson.

Garlin is also charged as an accessory to the shooting of Michael Wyatt Smith. Both Garlin and Thrasher are accused of withholding knowledge of Smith’s slaying. Their district court trials are pending, although both defendants are in plea negotiations with the state. Thrasher’s husband, Austin Blake Thrasher, is accused of executing Smith, 19, outside the couple’s home in Cocolalla last September. Smith had allegedly been seeing a 16-year-old girl Austin Thrasher had a romantic link to.

Garlin, according to court documents, disclosed the killing to sheriff’s investigators while in custody for the Pawn Now heist. Jennifer Thrasher, whose maiden name is Dunnagan, was also in custody and led detectives in February to a shallow grave north of Ponderay that held the body of Smith.

Austin Thrasher, also 19, is scheduled to be tried in 1st District Court on Oct. 22. He is pleading not guilty.

The defense moved for a mental health evaluation in April after doubts were raised about Austin Thrasher’s fitness to stand trial. The results of the evaluation are sealed in the public record, although his case proceeded — an indication that he was deemed competent to assist in his defense.

A second motion for an evaluation was filed on July 19.

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