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Thursday, June 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Idaho

New trial begins for North Idaho deputy charged in ex-wife’s death

Associated Press

LEWISTON – A new trial is underway for a former Nez Perce County sheriff’s deputy charged in connection with the strangling death of his ex-wife.

Joseph A. Thomas Jr. was convicted in 2011 of killing Beth Irby-Thomas and sentenced to at least 25 years in prison, but the Idaho Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 2014. The high court agreed that some evidence was illegally excluded from his trial, and said a new trial should be held.

The Lewiston Tribune reported the new trial, which started this week, was moved from Lewiston to Coeur d’Alene to make it easier for attorneys to find an unbiased jury.

Prosecutors say Thomas strangled Irby-Thomas with a belt and that he later confessed the murder to another deputy, Guy Arnzen. Thomas says he is not guilty.

Arnzen has since died and so can’t testify. Thomas’s attorney, meanwhile, will be allowed to present evidence suggesting Irby-Thomas liked to engage in autoerotic asphyxiation.

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