By MANDI BATEMAN
Hagadone News Network
BONNERS FERRY — Eric Dante withdrew his guilty plea of second-degree murder Thursday in the shooting death of Jesseka Musson and will now go to trial.
In December, Dante had agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder, for which he would spend at least five years in prison.
“I indicated that I was not willing to bind myself to that plea agreement,” said First District Judge Barbara Buchanan.
Musson died last year, on May 1, the day Boundary County Sheriff Dave Kramer had found Dante, 36, on his knees in the middle of a driveway with his hands behind his back. Dante told Kramer there had been a homicide, pointing toward the house at 22 Cedar Court. He told Kramer that his fiance, 38-year-old Musson, was dead from a knife wound.
Detective David McClelland, along with Bonners Ferry Police officers, found the body of Musson leaning over the foot of a bed. Her head and the surrounding bed covers were covered with blood, with a knife lying next to her.
According to court reports, Dante told McClelland, while handcuffed in the patrol vehicle, that he killed Musson in self defense, claiming she threatened his family with the Hells Angels. He said he and Musson had been drinking and “got crazy.”
But on further investigation, the cause of death was found to be a gunshot wound to Musson’s head.
On Thursday in court, Buchanan said she had received many letters from Musson’s family members and the community that led to her changing her mind.
Dante’s attorney, John Walsh, then withdrew the guilty plea and Dante will now proceed to a jury trial. There was some discussion about changing the venue of the trial, as Walsh expressed concerns that Dante would not receive a fair trial in Boundary County.
Buchanan scheduled a status conference for May 10 at 11:30 a.m. to discuss the upcoming trial.
“We feel amazing about today’s outcome,” said Shauna Carr, Musson’s sister. “I feel like it was a step in the right direction. Hopefully now with a trial, justice will be served.
“I feel that all that the community did — to write letters and come to the rally — that our voices were heard.”