Plea expected in Smith slaying

SANDPOINT — A Cocolalla woman is expected to plead to allegations that she concealed knowledge of the killing of Michael Wyatt Smith last year.

An entry-of-plea hearing in Jennifer Dunnagan Thrasher’s case is set for Nov. 19 in 1st District Court. She remains in custody while the case is pending.

Few details about her agreement with the state were divulged during a pretrial conference on Thursday. However, her acting defense attorney during the hearing, Jeremy Featherston, said the defense will recommend that her sentence run concurrently with her two-year prison term in a federal firearm theft case she was sentenced in last month.

Thrasher, 23, was charged with being an accessory to murder because she initially withheld information about Smith’s shooting death last fall. Thrasher later led investigators to Smith’s makeshift grave earlier this year.

Thrasher’s husband, Austin, is charged with first-degree murder, although his case remains on hold while he undergoes mental health treatment and a neuropsychological examination.

Austin Thrasher, 20, allegedly shot Smith to death because he was seeing a 16-year-old girl whom Thrasher had dated. The shooting occurred in the woods outside Thrasher’s Cocolalla home.

Jennifer Thrasher testified at a preliminary hearing that she did not witness the shooting, but she did help conceal Smith’s body in a shallow grave.

Smith, a 19-year-old Hope resident, was reported missing and his killing went undetected until earlier this year, when the Thrashers and Christopher Robin Garlin were apprehended in connection with a Ponderay pawn shop burglary in which more than 30 firearms were stolen.

Garlin, also 19, allegedly witnessed Smith’s killing and disclosed knowledge of it while in custody for the pawn shop heist, according to court documents. He pleaded to accessory to murder and awaits sentencing in 1st District Court.

Garlin is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court next year for the Pawn Now thefts. His defense counsel is asking the court to make Garlin’s sentence in the accessory case concurrent with the sentence imposed in the federal firearms theft case.

A ruling on whether the court will bind itself to the sentence recommendations in Garlin’s state case is pending.

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