Judge: Murder defendant, prosecutor must seek deal
POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) -- An eastern Idaho judge has ordered a prosecuting attorney and a murder defendant to enter into mediation in hopes that they will reach a plea agreement before trial.
Bannock County Public Defender Randy Schulthies told the Idaho State Journal that such a move is rare in a murder case, and they're usually used for lesser crimes.
But this time 6th District Judge Stephen Dunn ordered the mediation for the case of Michael Sparks, who is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the beating death of his estranged wife, Judith Rachel Johnson, last year.
Sparks and Bannock County Prosecutor Mark Hiedeman appeared close to reaching a plea deal earlier this year but it fell through, and Hiedeman has since informed the court he will seek the death penalty.
Information from: Idaho State Journal, http://www.journalnet.com