New trial underway for man accused of strangling wife - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

New trial underway for man accused of strangling wife

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COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -

A new trial is underway in Coeur d'Alene for a former sheriff's deputy charged with strangling his wife to death.

Joseph Thomas had been sentenced to 25 years in prison, but that conviction was overturned when his lawyers successfully argued that some evidence was excluded.

Thomas' attorney says his ex-wife liked to be strangled. She also argued that shed died because of autoerotic asphyxiation.

The story starts in 2011, Joseph Anthony Thomas Jr. was convicted for the murder of his ex-wife Beth Irby-Thomas.

In 2014, the Idaho Supreme Court overturned his conviction and today starts a second chance.

“The evidence will show you that Joe and Beth were getting along in late April/May of 2011, they were parenting their little boys,” Anne Taylor, Thomas’s attorney, said during opening statements.

“On May 1st, 2011, that tired out relationship and he ended that by strangling Beth with his own belt,” Casey Hemmer, a special prosecutor assigned to the case from the Idaho Attorney General’s Office said during opening statements.

Thomas is accused of strangling and killing his ex-wife.

But Thomas’s attorney argues a different story.

“Beth took Joe's belt off and placing it around her neck this was nothing new this is something Beth chose to engage in,” Anne Taylor told the jury.

After opening statements, the state called several witnesses and played the 911 call from that night in 2011.

Then, Lewiston Police officer Trent Aubertin was called to the stand.

“I tried to get my fingers under the belt to try to get the belt off her neck,” Aubertin told the state.

“How tight was this belt,” the state asked.

“Extremely tight, it took me a little to get my fingers under it to get the belt loose,” Aubertin said.

Thomas’s attorney then followed up and at times, the cross examination would get tense.

“Do you see any reason why that belt would remain stuck,” Taylor asked.

“No,” Aubertin returned.

The trial will continue tomorrow and this trial could take a week or more depending on witness testimony.

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