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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Cannibalism charge against North Idaho man accused of murder dismissed over lack of evidence

A judge dismissed the cannibalism charge against James D. Russell this week. Russell is accused of killing David M. Flaget in September in Bonner County.  (Courtesy of Bonner County Sheriff's Office)

A judge earlier this week dismissed the cannibalism charge against a North Idaho man accused of killing a 70-year-old man last year.

James D. Russell, 39, faces first-degree murder for the killing and was bound over on that charge to Bonner County District Court Monday during a preliminary hearing.

“The court did not find sufficient evidence to show the defendant actually ingested parts of the deceased body,” Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall said.

Investigators arrested Russell in September on suspicion of killing David M. Flaget, who was found dead in his pickup truck.

An autopsy conducted by the Spokane County Medical Examiner found that Flaget died from blunt force trauma to the head and neck, according to different court documents. The examiner also found evidence of postmortem mutilation on several parts of Flaget’s body.

Investigators searched Russell’s apartment in Clark Fork, Idaho, and found tissue “consistent with flesh missing from Flaget.” The flesh was confirmed to be the victim’s.

Authorities also seized a bloodied bowl and microwave from Russell’s residence. The Idaho State Lab confirmed these items had Flaget’s DNA on them, according to the court records.

Russell is scheduled for an arraignment Tuesday in District Court.