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Death penalty off the table in Shackelford resentencing

The death penalty is now off the table in the resentencing of convicted murderer Dale Shackelford, the Moscow-Pullman Daily News reports. The Idaho Supreme Court has upheld all convictions and sentences against Shackelford for the 1999 killing of his ex-wife and her boyfriend except for the death penalty, which was imposed in addition to a fixed life term in prison without the possibility of parole; the Ring vs. Arizona decision from the U.S. Supreme Court requires juries, rather than judges, to find aggravating factors warranting a death penalty.

Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson said seeking the death sentence would mean requesting a new 10-week trial and jury selection in an attempt to reconvict Shackelford on the two murder counts. “We simply couldn't justify that,” he told the Daily News; he'll now seek consecutive life sentences for each count of first-degree murder. Shackelford is in the state's maximum-security prison; click below for a full report.


Death penalty out for Shackelford resentencing

Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Moscow, Idaho
(MCT)

June 21—Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson says he won't seek the death penalty in the resentencing of convicted murderer Dale Shackelford.

Thompson filed a notice in Latah County 2nd District Court on Monday indicating a U.S. Supreme Court case prevents him from seeking the death penalty following an order by the Idaho Supreme Court for resentencing Shackelford on two counts of first-degree murder without setting another trial.

Shackelford, 49, was convicted in 2000 of killing his ex-wife, Donna Fontaine, and her boyfriend, Fred Palahniuk, and then burning the Kendrick home where their bodies were recovered May 29, 1999. Second District Judge John R. Stegner had imposed the death penalty for the first-degree murder convictions with various fixed sentences for one count of first-degree arson, preparing false evidence, first-degree conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree conspiracy to commit arson.

Thompson's notice states a decision by the Idaho Supreme Court on June 1, 2010, reaffirmed all convictions and sentences in an appeal filed by Shackelford except for the death sentences for the murder convictions. This was due to a U.S. Supreme Court case (Ring v. Arizona) that made it so a jury “must find statutory aggravating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt” to impose a death sentence, according to the notice. The state Supreme Court decided the jury in 2000 had not done this.

Thompson said prior to the status hearing Monday that seeking the death sentence would mean requesting a new 10-week trial and jury selection in an attempt to reconvict Shackelford on the two murder counts.

“We simply couldn't justify that,” he said.

Thompson will now seek consecutive life sentences for each count of first-degree murder.

Setting a date for resentencing was delayed by Shackelford's attorney Ray Barker, who said he wanted to wait until he had a chance to confer with his client this weekend. Another hearing has been tentatively set for 9 a.m. July 1.

Thompson also requested that resentencing be done in Boise, possibly at the maximum security prison where Shackelford is currently serving a fixed life sentence without the possibility of parole, because of Shackelford's history of trying to escape. Stegner said that will be determined at a later date.

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To see more of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.dnews.com.

(c) 2011, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Moscow, Idaho

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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