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Retrial for Lankford brother is postponed

Mark Lankford
Mark Lankford

LEWISTON – Motions to dismiss Mark Lankford’s murder charge for the alleged beating death of a Texas couple were forwarded to the State Supreme Court to decide if the case will go forward.

Lankford has twice been convicted of killing Robert and Cheryl Bravence of El Paso, Texas, in 1983 and dumping their bodies in the Idaho County backcountry. His most recent win on appeal stemmed from Idaho County Prosecutor Kirk MacGregor failing to disclose the full details to Lankford’s defense attorney of a deal MacGregor offered an incarcerated witness if he testified against Lankford.

MacGregor was later recused from the case by Nez Perce County 2nd District Judge Jay Gaskill after it was determined MacGregor could be called to testify as a witness in Lankford’s third trial on the two first-degree murder charges.

Lankford’s attorney, Joanna McFarland, filed a motion to dismiss based on alleged violation of his right to a speedy trial. The trial was postponed when MacGregor was recused and special prosecutors were appointed out of Canyon County. Gaskill denied that motion as well as several others, including one that claimed the case should be dismissed due to prosecutorial misconduct by MacGregor because he allegedly threatened a state’s witness.

McFarland filed an interlocutory appeal in late May and the special prosecutors, Justin Paskett, Madison Miles and Christopher Topmiller, agreed that the motions to dismiss should be looked at by the Idaho Supreme Court. If the justices decline to take up the motions, then Gaskill’s ruling will stand and Lankford will be tried for a third time. If the justices choose to analyze the motions, it could take anywhere from six months to a year before a decision is reached. In the meantime, Gaskill vacated the scheduled August jury trial and set a tentative trial date for Dec. 3. The trial is expected to take three weeks and will be held in Canyon County.

Gaskill set a status conference for July 25 to update the court about whether the trial will go forward.


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