Convicted murderer Thomas wants new trial in ex-wife’s death

Joe Thomas

A former Nez Perce County sheriff’s deputy convicted last week of strangling his ex-wife to death in Lewiston wants a new trial.

The attorney for Joseph Thomas filed a motion Thursday in 2nd District Court, where Thomas was found guilty last week of first-degree murder in the death of his former wife, Beth Irby-Thomas.  Thomas is to be sentenced March 2.

Irby-Thomas was found at her Normal Hill home May 1 with a belt wrapped tightly around her neck.  During trial, prosecutors argued Thomas killed his ex-wife, while he claimed she died accidentally while practicing autoerotic asphyxiation.

Defense attorney Paul Thomas Clark claims Thomas was deprived of a fair trial for reasons that included the judge’s order limiting references to the sexual behavior, and a denial of a request to have a psychologist examine Thomas for post traumatic stress disorder, which Clark says may have contributed to his actions.

Meanwhile, Clark filed a motion to withdraw as Thomas’ attorney, citing Thomas’ family’s inability to pay for the trial.   (AP)


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