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

New business is squeaky-clean

May 24, 2016 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee SANDPOINT -- A new service provider in town offers commercial locations, rental units and residences alike the chance to sparkle. Busy Bee Cleaning may be new to the Sandpoint business community,...

Read More

City projects are now open to bids

May 24, 2016 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee SANDPOINT — With the advent of the construction season, Sandpoint city officials are putting several projects out for bid. Qualified businesses should submit bids to the appropriate department by...

Read More

CASA breakfast serves up a ‘Ray of Hope’

May 24, 2016 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee Event to raise funds for 100-percent increase in child protection numbers

Read More

CAL gives $105K in grant awards

May 24, 2016 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee SANDPOINT — The fluttering petals beyond the window could have been snowflakes and the brick-walled conference room, a cozy hearth. The spirit of giving, normally reserved for the holidays,...

Read More