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State v. Thomas

Supreme Court of Idaho

January 23, 2015

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
JOSEPH ANTHONY THOMAS, JR., Defendant-Appellant

2015 Opinion No. 8

Appeal from the District Court of the Second Judicial District of the State of Idaho, in and for Nez Perce County. Hon. Michael J. Griffin, District Judge.

The judgment of the district court is vacated.

Sara B. Thomas, State Appellate Public Defender, Boise, argued for appellant.

Kenneth K. Jorgensen, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, argued for respondent.

EISMANN, Justice. Chief Justice BURDICK, Justice J. JONES, and Justices Pro Tem SCHROEDER AND KIDWELL CONCUR.

AMENDED OPINION

THE COURT'S PRIOR OPINION DATED JANUARY 23, 2015 IS HEREBY AMENDED.

Page 629

EISMANN, Justice.

This is an appeal out of Nez Perce County from a conviction for murder in the first degree. Because the district court erroneously excluded evidence that could have corroborated the defendant's version of what had occurred and the State has not shown that such error was harmless, we vacate the jury verdict and the judgment and remand this case for further proceedings.

I.

Factual Background.

A jury found Joseph Anthony Thomas, Jr., (Defendant) guilty of the crime of murder in the first degree for the strangulation death of his ex-wife, Beth Irby Thomas (Decedent), on April 30, 2011. A friend of Defendant testified that at about 12:30 a.m. the following day, Defendant came to the friend's home and stated that he had strangled Decedent. After Defendant left, the friend called 911. The first police officer to arrive at Decedent's home found her with a leather belt cinched tightly around her neck. The belt was Defendant's, and he was standing outside her house when the police arrived.

Prior to trial, the State became aware that Defendant may offer evidence that Decedent engaged in erotic asphyxiation. It filed a motion to exclude evidence regarding Decedent's prior sexual acts or behavior, contending that it was not relevant. Defendant ...


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