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No deal. Idaho driver charged with murder in death of couple on sidewalk wants a trial.


The Fruitland driver accused of intentionally running over and killing two people on a city sidewalk has decided not to take a plea deal offered by prosecutors, the Payette County prosecutor told the Statesman on Thursday.

Jason L. Verwer is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Matthew and Amelia Parkinson in January 2017.

At a pretrial conference earlier this month, a change-of-plea hearing for Verwer was scheduled for Thursday. But he did not change his not-guilty plea at the hearing, according to Payette County Prosecutor Ross Pittman.

Instead, a trial was scheduled for Oct. 9.

This is a news update. Here’s our story from April 5:

A driver accused of intentionally veering off U.S. 95 onto a Fruitland sidewalk — running over and killing a young couple — has reached a plea deal with Payette County prosecutors, one of his attorneys told a 3rd District Court judge Friday morning.

Newlyweds Matthew and Amelia Parkinson, ages 23 and 17, respectively, died at the scene of the Jan. 24, 2017, crash.

Fruitland resident Jason L. Verwer, now 38, was charged with two counts of second-degree murder. He was in court Friday for a pretrial conference.

Verwer will plead guilty to both second-degree murder charges, Payette County Prosecutor Ross Pittman told the Statesman after the hearing, but he declined to discuss the terms of the deal.

Those details will be disclosed at a change of plea hearing, which District Court Judge Susan Wiebe set for 1:30 p.m. April 18.

Second-degree murder carries penalties of 10 years to life in prison and a $15,000 fine.

Verwer struck the Parkinsons south of U.S. 95’s intersection with NW 3rd Street, knocking them in the air and dragging them into the parking lot of Keithly Williams Seeds.

A witness who testified at a preliminary hearing last year said Verwer drove right at the couple in his 1983 Chevy Celebrity, and an Idaho State Police crash reconstructionist determined from video that Verwer accelerated to about 62 miles per hour before hitting them. There was no evidence of braking.

After getting out of his car, he made lewd gestures at one man and bowed to another before fleeing on foot, according to testimony at the hearing. Someone flagged down a Fruitland police officer, who took him into custody and went with him to a local hospital for assessment.

At that hearing, investigators said they knew of no connection between Verwer and the Parkinsons. There was no discussion of a motive.

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