Returning to the same courthouse where he was convicted in 1997 of killing his wife, former Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy Thomas A. DiBartolo, 64, asked a judge Tuesday to allow him to go back to work-release as part of the process of releasing him from custody.
Dibartolo was transferred to a work-release facility in Yakima on Aug. 27 after serving much of his 26-year sentence on the East Coast. He was then moved to the Yakima County Jail last month in preparation for moving him to Spokane for Tuesday’s hearing.
But on Tuesday Deputy Spokane County Public Defender Anna Nordtvedt said she just got the DiBartolo case file earlier in the day and was not prepared to argue on his behalf.
Superior Court Judge Tony Hazel delayed the hearing until 4 p.m. Wednesday.
DiBartolo was convicted of first-degree murder in connection with the Nov. 2, 1996, shooting death of his wife, 39-year-old Patty DiBartolo.
DiBartolo claimed he was walking with his wife in the South Hill’s Lincoln Park when two men – one of whom he described as a young black man – attempted to rob them at gunpoint. Patty DiBartolo was shot in the back of her head, and Thomas DiBartolo, who was off duty, suffered a superficial gunshot wound that prosecutors later argued was part of his coverup for the crime.
Former Superior Court Judge Neal Rielly sentenced DiBartolo to 26 years, but prosecutors said at the time he could be released in 20 years if he complied with all the conditions of his incarceration.
On Tuesday, Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Dale Nagy said the state believes DiBartolo’s release date should be Feb. 21, 2020.
The hearing was called because the state Department of Corrections wanted a judge to review DiBartolo’s sentence based on the guidelines in place in 1997.
At that time, Nagy said, state law mandated suspects convicted of serious crimes must serve their sentence before they would become eligible for two years of community custody.
The purpose of the Wednesday hearing is to allow prosecutors and defense attorneys to argue the motion clarifying when DiBartolo is to begin release conditions, such as work-release, Nagy said.
“We think the judgment and sentence does reflect that,” Nagy said. “But the DOC wants clarification.”
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