MCCALL (Idaho Statesman) — A 29-year-old Washington man was supposed to be admitted to a hospital for psychiatric help. He never made it to the hospital, court records showed.
Months later, he killed an Idaho couple north of McCall. Now, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Third District Judge Matthew Roker sentenced John Cody Hart to 30 years in prison with an indeterminate life sentence — meaning Hart could eventually be released on parole, Adams County Prosecutor Christopher Boyd told the Idaho Statesman by email. Hart fatally shot two owners of a New Meadows hotel, where he was staying, in October 2022. The prosecution asked for life without the possibility of parole, Boyd added.
In July, Hart agreed to plead guilty to two counts of first-degree murder as part of a plea deal, and in exchange, the prosecution took the death penalty off the table, the Adams County Sheriff’s Office said in a previous news release. Hart was a guest at the Hartland Inn in October 2022 when he shot and killed 47-year-old Rory Mehen and 45-year-old Sara Mehen.
“The families of the two beautiful people Hart se
nselessly murdered are heartbroken, as is the community of New Meadows,” Boyd said.
Records previously obtained by the Statesman showed Hart, who lived in Southwest Washington, was expected to be admitted to a mental health hospital near Tacoma, Washington, and that he was forbidden to possess firearms. Records showed that Hart began experiencing “auditory hallucinations” in 2015 after his wife died in a car crash and was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Hart was never transferred to the hospital because of a backlog in mental health cases, according to court records. He was expected to be hospitalized starting in August 2022 for 90 days.
Shortly after 12:30 p.m. Oct. 1, 2022, Hart shot the couple at the Hartland Inn. Hart told police he shot the Mehens after he was caught looking in some of the motel’s drawers for socks that he believed belonged to his children, according to an affidavit for an arrest warrant previously obtained by the Statesman.
Hart told detectives the Mehens “snatched everything from his hands” and made him feel like a thief, the affidavit said. He added the Mehens reminded him of Bonny and Clyde. According to the affidavit, Hart said following the “sock incident, he went back to his room and prepared for the worst.”