An eastern Idaho judge has ordered a prosecutor and a man accused of killing his estranged wife to try to reach a plea agreement.
Sixth District Judge Stephen Dunn issued an order on Monday telling defendant Michael Lane Sparks and Bannock County Prosecutor Mark Hiedeman to enter criminal mediation before the first-degree murder case is set to go to trial in March. Criminal mediation offers a way for opposing sides to try to find common ground for a plea deal in a confidential setting.
Sparks' attorney, Bannock County Public Defender Randy Schulthies, said such a move is rare and usually reserved for lesser crimes.
The ABA Journal posts, "Judge Orders Prosecutor and Defendant Into Mediation In Death Penalty Case." It's written by Martha Neil.
Bannock County Prosecutor Mark Hiedeman, who is getting ready to retire after over 20 years on the job, told the Idaho State Journal (sub. req.) it's not all that unusual to mediate a felony case and said the mediation could be beneficial. The mediation is expected to take place with Sixth District Judge Robert Naftz, who is a certified mediator.
“I think there could be some resolution obtained, and if there were, it would save the incoming prosecutor from having to try a murder case,” Hiedeman said.