- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 19, 2015

JEROME, Idaho (AP) - A 55-year-old Jerome man sent to prison for life in the shooting death of his ex-wife more than 30 years ago has been released after his conviction was vacated by a federal judge.

Jaimi Charboneau left Jerome County Jail on Monday night after posting $20,000 bond.

“He’s ecstatic,” Brian Tanner, one of Charboneau’s defense attorneys, told KTVB-TV (https://is.gd/tYWVle ).

Fifth District Judge Robert J. Elgee last month vacated Charboneau’s conviction and sentence after determining the state hid significant evidence. He said the “state’s hands are dirty,” ordered a new trial and set a bond.

The Idaho Attorney General’s Office is appealing Elgee’s decision. State prosecutors also asked the Idaho Supreme Court to stay Elgee’s order allowing bond, but the motion was denied Friday, allowing Charboneau to post bond.

Charboneau was convicted of murder in 1985 for the 1984 killing of Marilyn Arbaugh, his ex-wife, in Jerome County. He was sentenced to death but was later resentenced to life in prison.

New evidence includes a 1989 letter written by Arbaugh’s daughter. Tira Arbaugh, now deceased, wrote that prosecutors told her to lie and conceal evidence and that she didn’t tell the truth when she testified at Charboneau’s trial.

The letter was written to the court where Charboneau was convicted but didn’t become known to him until 2011.

“It’s not just the letter that’s compelling, it’s the fact that it was hidden for 21 years,” Tanner said.

He said the appeals process could take several years, and that Charboneau would then likely face another trial. During that time, though, he will be able to remain out of prison.

“It’s quite an adjustment to be released after 31 years of incarceration, so Jaimi Charboneau has got to learn to cope,” said John Lynn, an attorney who is also defending Charboneau. “He has to learn how to drive a car again, and all those things that we all take for granted.”

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Information from: KTVB-TV, https://www.ktvb.com/

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