State seeks dismissal of relief petition in stabbing

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SANDPOINT — The state is moving to dismiss a post-conviction relief petition filed by a Washington state man imprisoned for stabbing another man without provocation at an Easter gathering in 2017.

Shawn Montgomery Harp argues the state overcharged him with a first-degree attempted murder offense and he received ineffective assistance from counsel because his attorney did not raise his methamphetamine-fueled psychosis as a defense in his case. He further argues that he was unaware that the court did not have to follow sentencing recommendations in the case and his attorneys failed to file an appeal.

Harp was accused of attacking a professional acquaintance at Laclede residence, stabbing the man in the chest and the back, according to court documents. The knife strikes narrowly missed the man’s heart and spinal cord, nearly taking his life. Harp fled the scene in a stolen utility all-terrain vehicle, but was apprehended in an overnight law enforcement dragnet.

Harp ultimately pleaded guilty to an amended felony charge of aggravated battery. The state recommended a three- to seven-year term, while the defense advocated for retain jurisdiction, which would have qualified Harp for release onto probation after serving up to a year in prison.

First District Judge Barbara Buchanan, who was not bound by the sentencing recommendations, imposed the maximum sentence of 15 years, finding the defense’s rider recommendation was inappropriate due to the level of violence Harp exhibited during the onslaught. She imposed the maximum of sentence of 15 years, the first seven years of which are fixed.

Harp, 35, participated in Tuesday’s proceedings via telephone from the Eagle Pass Correctional Facility, a southwest Texas facility where more than 500 Idaho inmates are being held due to prison overcrowding. Harp argued he was overcharged by the state in order to induce a plea to a lesser charge and that there was no evidence to sustain charging elements in a first-degree murder prosecution.

“None of those elements were in place. There was no evidence that there was any malice aforethought or premeditated intent,” Harp said.

Bonner County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Shane Greenbank countered that a magistrate court judge found there was probable cause to justify a first-degree charge. Moreover, the state did not stray from its sentence recommendations and Harp was expressly advised twice that the court was not bound by those recommendations, Greenbank said.

“He got what he bargained for,” Greenbank said.

Harp also argued that he received bad legal advice on the timing of an appeal relative to his pursuit for a lesser sentence.

“That might be a potential basis for post-conviction (relief),” said Harp’s counsel during the hearing, Sandpoint attorney Bruce Greene.

Buchanan took the arguments under consideration and said she would issue a written ruling on the state’s motion to dismiss.

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

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