SANDPOINT — A former Bonner County man serving a 25-year sentence for allegedly killing his wife and perpetrating an extended cover-up of the slaying is appealing to the Idaho Supreme Court.
Stephen Mathew Lott entered Alford pleas to involuntary manslaughter and failing to notify authorities of the death of Christine Lott, who disappeared in 2004. Under the terms of the pleas, Lott admits no wrongdoing but concedes he could be convicted if the case went before a jury.
First District Judge Barbara Buchanan ordered Lott in September to serve 15 years on the manslaughter charge and 10 years on the failure-to-notify charge. Buchanan ordered that the terms be served consecutively rather than concurrently because of Lott’s inability to admit responsibility and his 12-year campaign to deceive their children and other family about Christine Lott’s fate.
After he was sentenced, Lott’s defense counsel moved for a reduction in sentence due to a 2018 Idaho Supreme Court decision which held that the failure-to-notify charge was unconstitutional in a Kootenai County criminal case because it violated a defendant’s privilege against self-incrimination.
Buchanan denied the motion, finding the court could not grant the relief Lott sought under the criminal court rule cited by the defense. Moreover, the circumstances of the Lott case were too dissimilar to the circumstances in the 2018 high court case, Buchanan ruled.
State Appellate Public Defender Eric Fredericksen filed a notice of appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court on Nov. 26, court records show. The appeal challenges the denial of the post-conviction relief motion, in addition the sentence and conviction on the notification charge.
Lott, 50, is serving his sentence at the Idaho State Correctional Institution’s Medical Annex. It emerged during sentencing that Lott suffers from the autoimmune disease lupus and a related kidney condition.
Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.