Victims of the State

5 Cases

Ada County, ID 

Donna Thorngren

Jan 12, 2003 (Meridian)

Donna Kay Thorngren was convicted of the murder of her 42-year-old husband, Curtis Thorngren. Curt was found shot to death in a bathroom in their home. Two months before the murder, Curt's life insurance, payable to Donna, had been increased to a payout of $320,000. The change was effective as of Jan 1, 2003, 11 days before Curt's murder. However, at Hewlett-Packard, Curt's place of employment, all employees were given the opportunity to increase their policies with new benefits effective the same date.
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 Boundary County, ID

Vicki Weaver

Aug 1992

(Federal Case)  Vicki Weaver, the wife of Randy Weaver, was shot to death by federal snipers while standing on the doorway of her cabin, holding an infant child. The shooting occurred during a controversial siege by federal agents at the Weaver cabin in Ruby Ridge, near Naples, ID. The siege also resulted in the deaths of Deputy US Marshal William Degan and 14-year-old Sammy Weaver in a shootout below the cabin. The case became the subject of U.S. Senate subcommittee hearings. In 1995, the Justice Department agreed to pay Randy Weaver and his three daughters, $3.1 million to settle a wrongful death suit. The settlement would pay each of the daughters $1 million and $100,000 to Randy Weaver.  [3/06]

Canyon County, ID 

Charles Irvin Fain

Feb 24, 1982 (Nampa)

After 9-year-old Daralyn Johnson was kidnapped, raped, and drowned, Charles Irvin Fain, along with dozens of others was asked to provide hair samples for comparison to the hairs found on the victim. After performing microscopic hair comparison, an FBI forensics expert determined that the suspect hairs were similar to Fain's. At trial, the prosecution also relied on the testimony of two jailhouse informants. They claimed that Fain had told them of his involvement in the crime and provided graphic details. Fain was convicted and sentenced to death. He served 18 years of imprisonment before DNA tests showed that the hairs did not come from him.  (IP) (CWC)  [6/05]

Idaho County, ID 

Mark Lankford

June 21, 1983

Mark Henry Lankford was convicted along with his brother Bryan of beating to death Robert and Cheryl Bravence in the Idaho wilderness. Mark was not at the scene of the crime but was convicted because Bryan was promised life imprisonment instead of death, for testimony against his brother. Bryan has since recanted, but Mark has spent 20 years in solitary confinement on Death Row.  (Free Mark)  [3/05]

Kootenai County, ID 

Donald Paradis

June 21, 1980 (Post Falls)

Donald Manuel Paradis was sentenced to death for the murder of 19-year-old Kimberly Anne Palmer. Paradis was a leader of the Gypsy Jokers motorcycle gang. Prior to the murder he allowed a number of people to use his home in Spokane, WA. On June 21, 1980, Palmer was strangled to death in his home and her boyfriend, Scott Currier, was beaten to death. Paradis was not home at the time of the crime. The victims' killers have since been established, and both the killers and other witnesses made it clear that Paradis had nothing to do with the killings.

When Paradis came home and found the bodies, he feared he would be accused of the murders. So he and two other men wrapped the bodies in sleeping bags and put them in a car. He then drove the bodies across the state line and dumped them in Post Falls, Idaho.

Paradis was tried in Washington for the murder of Currier, but was acquitted. William Brady, the pathologist who performed an autopsy on Palmer, fostered the impression that Palmer had been killed in Idaho. Brady's improbable theory became the basis for Idaho authorities to prosecute Paradis for the murder of Palmer. Brady was later fired from his job as a medical examiner in nearby Oregon. An investigation showed that he had used state facilities to perform private autopsies, had sold human tissue for profit, and had saved human blood collected during autopsies for use in his garden.

At trial, Paradis's court-appointed lawyer was William Brown. Brown had never studied criminal law, never tried a felony case, and never tried a case before a jury. He was also working as a police officer in Coeur D'Alene at the same time he was representing Paradis at his Coeur D'Alene trial. Some of the prosecution witnesses were Brown's fellow police officers. Brown's defense of Paradis lasted three hours.

In 1996, Idaho Governor Batt commuted Paradis's death sentence to life without parole. In April 2001, a federal judge vacated Paradis's conviction because prosecutors withheld potentially exculpatory evidence. Prosecutors then dropped charges against Paradis after he pled guilty to moving a corpse. He was sentenced to five years in prison and released for time served as he had already served 21 years.  (NY Times)  [9/08]