For the first time since 1995, a Bonner County prosecutor is seeking the death penalty.
Prosecuting attorney Louis Marshall filed a notice in county court Tuesday to pursue the death sentence in the case of Jacob Coleman, a Puyallup, Washington, man who allegedly stabbed a cab driver to death in August.
Coleman, 20, is charged with first-degree murder.
Last summer he reportedly hailed a cab from Spokane International Airport and requested the cab driver, Gagandeep Singh, to drive him northeast of Sandpoint to a fictitious friend’s house.
After hours of searching for the nonexistent location, Coleman allegedly stabbed Singh several times with a knife he had purchased at a store sometime during the ride.
Singh, a 22-year-old Spokane Valley resident, bled to death in the cab.
“(The State of Idaho) intends to prove one or more aggravating factors, including that the murder was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel, manifesting exceptional depravity,” Marshall’s notice read. “And/or by the murder or the circumstances surrounding its commission, the defendant exhibited utter disregard for human life.”
Coleman’s trial is slated for April.
Bonner County hasn’t sought the death penalty since 1995 when white supremacist Faron Loveless was convicted of killing a friend he thought was a police informant.
Loveless was sentenced to death but, according to Marshall, the sentence was overturned as a consequence of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the 2003 Ring vs. The State of Arizona case.
In that case, the Supreme Court ruled the defendant has the right to have a jury rather than a judge decide what aggravating factor makes the defendant eligible for the death penalty.
The Idaho attorney general’s office later agreed to commute Loveless’ sentence to life without the possibility of parole.
The state of Idaho has not carried out a death penalty sentence since 2012 and has seven people on death row. Three inmates have been executed since 1957.
Jonathan Renfro, who was convicted in November for shooting and killing Coeur d’Alene police Sgt. Greg Moore in 2015, was the most recent Idahoan sentenced to death.
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