Thompson sentencing set for Nov. 15
U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle today reset the sentencing date for former Spokane Police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. for 9 a.m. on Nov. 15. It comes more than a year after his conviction following the deadly confrontation with Otto Zehm.
Van Sickle postponed the original Jan. 27 sentencing date after attorneys for Thompson filed motions seeking a new trial for the decorated officer who was convicted on Nov. 2 of using excessive force and lying to investigators following the beating of Zehm in 2006.
After exhaustive legal arguments, Van Sickle on Tuesday denied motions seeking a new trial. Attorneys for Thompson have vowed to appeal those decisions, but they are not expected to delay the sentencing.
Defense attorney Courtney Garcea said the defense intends to call between three and five witnesses. She also indicated that the defense will file a motion seeking Van Sickle to sentence Thompson below the standard range.
As it currently stands, Thompson faces a standard range of 27 to 33 months in prison. However, the judge holds the discretion to send Thompson to prison for a longer or a shorter period of time.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Harrington said the prosecution has objections with the initial draft of the pre-sentence report and said attorneys will be filing legal briefs prior to the sentencing.
Harrington also said he expects to call three witnesses. Both sides predicted that the sentencing hearing will last all day.
Jeffry Finer, attorney for the family and estate of Zehm, asked Van Sickle whether the family would be allowed to either speak or submit written statements. Van Sickle assured Finer that the family would have that opportunity.
Van Sickle did not address release conditions. After the conviction, prosecutors sought to have Thompson detained because he was convicted of a violent crime.
U.S. Magistrate Judge James Hutton agreed and ordered Thompson into custody last November.
While Thompson spent one night in the Bonner County Jail, Van Sickle reversed Hutton’s order and allowed Thompson to remain out of jail pending sentencing.