Convicted rapist seeks new trial

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SANDPOINT — A North Idaho man serving a life sentence for kidnapping and raping a woman at her cabin near Spirit Lake is seeking a new trial.

Joe Fred Ransom argues his convictions should be vacated and he should receive a new trial because of ineffective assistance of counsel during his 2016 trial in 1st District Court.

A Bonner County jury convicted Ransom of the charges after hearing testimony from the alleged victim and the defendant, who categorically denied the allegations and argued he was being railroaded by authorities. Jurors, however, found the woman’s testimony more credible than Ransom’s testimony.

The woman, 51, testified that Ransom beat her and ordered her to call family members to say goodbye. Ransom also threatened to mutilate her and torture her during a four-hour ordeal which culminated in her rape.

Judge Barbara Buchanan sentenced Ransom to life in prison with a fixed 10-year term.

Ransom’s new counsel, Coeur d’Alene attorney Sean Walsh, argues Ransom’s trial counsel failed to investigate and properly defend him by neglecting to retain a telecommunications expert to examine text messages and phone calls in the case or present exculpatory witness testimony.

“All of which was below an objective standard for a criminal defense attorney, and but for this deficiency, petitioner would not have been convicted at trial,” Walsh said in a 645-page petition for post-conviction relief, which includes a transcript of the proceedings in district court.

Walsh further argues in the petition that his trial counsel misunderstood the law concerning burden of proof and misstated the law to jurors during closing arguments, according to the Oct. 5 petition.

Ransom, 56, is serving his sentence at the Idaho Correctional Institution in Orofino, according to the Idaho Department of Correction. He becomes eligible for parole in 2026, IDOC’s website states.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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