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North Idaho man pleads guilty to murder after cannibalism charge dropped earlier this year

Idaho

SANDPOINT (The Spokesman-Review) — A 40-year-old North Idaho man accused of killing a 70-year-old man in 2021 pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Monday in Bonner County District Court.

In June, a judge dismissed a related cannibalism charge against James D. Russell.

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

Investigators arrested Russell in September 2021 on suspicion of killing David M. Flaget, who was found dead in his truck.

RELATED | Judge drops cannibalism charge in northern Idaho murder case

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

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

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

Russell originally faced a charge of first-degree murder.

He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 30 for second-degree murder. Russell faces 10 years to life in prison.

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