Court: Man unable to assist in defense

SANDPOINT — A 19-year-old Cocolalla man accused of shooting a romantic rival to death last year has been deemed too mentally ill to assist in his own defense.

As a result, the first-degree murder case against Austin Blake Thrasher is suspended for the time being, court records show.

Thrasher is accused of luring Michael Wyatt Smith into the woods near Thrasher’s home and shooting him in the head and torso with a .357 pistol. The killing allegedly occurred last fall, but went undetected until earlier this year.

Christopher Robin Garlin and Thrasher’s wife, Jennifer, were charged with accessories to murder because they had knowledge of the slaying, but didn’t immediately report it to authorities.

Garlin, according to court documents, disclosed knowledge of the killing after the trio was arrested in connection with a Ponderay pawn shop burglary in January. Jennifer Thrasher led investigators to Smith’s makeshift grave in the Rapid Lightning drainage.

Smith, also 19, was allegedly killed because he was seeing a 16-year-old Clark Fork girl with whom Austin Thrasher had a romantic relationship.

Austin Thrasher’s defense counsel, Chief Public Defender Isabella Robertson, raised concerns about her client’s fitness to proceed in April, shortly after he was ordered to stand trial in 1st District Court.

Robertson renewed those concerns last summer, moving for Austin Thrasher to be evaluated because his symptoms of delusion had advanced to a point where he appeared unable to assist in his own defense.

The results of Dr. Carl Haugen’s evaluation were filed under seal last month, although Judge Steve Verby signed an order on Sept. 19 finding that there was good cause to doubt Austin Thrasher’s fitness to proceed.

Verby ordered Austin Thrasher be committed to the custody of the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare for up to 90 days. He could face further commitment or be returned to Bonner County to face trial if he’s found fit to proceed.

Jennifer Thrasher and Garlin, both 18, remain jailed while awaiting trial in federal court on the pawn shop burglary charges and the accessory charges in state court.

Read More News

Beyonce slays at MTV VMAs, Drake honors Rihanna

AP

August 28, 2016 at 9:06 pm | Beyonce owned the MTV Video Music Awards by winning video of the year and giving a 16-minute performance featuring her recent hits from "Lemonade," while Drake honored Rihanna when he presented her...

Read More

Motorcycle rider killed in accident

August 28, 2016 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee SANDPOINT — A Sandpoint man was killed early Saturday after he struck a deer while riding his 2003 Yamaha motorcycle.Idaho State Police said Robert C. Stevens, 33, was eastbound on Center...

Read More

Sandpoint OKs $39.4M city budget

August 28, 2016 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee SANDPOINT — While the city budget for the 2016-2017 year is up about $7.5 million from the previous year, City Administrator Jennifer Stapleton said that is largely due to capital...

Read More

Burglary suspect is arrested

August 28, 2016 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee SANDPOINT — A Sandpoint man was arrested Thursday for allegedly burglarizing his former place of employment.Jay Roger Jones is charged with burglary and petit theft. He made an initial...

Read More