- Associated Press - Thursday, July 28, 2016

GRANGEVILLE, Idaho (AP) - A third trial for a man charged with killing a Texas couple more than 30 years ago will cost $250,000 and strain Idaho County’s budget, officials say.

The issue arose when commissioners met Wednesday to review the county’s $16 million budget proposal for the coming fiscal year, the Lewiston Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/2a2rZwU).

Commission Chairman Jim Chmelik said the trial cost will cut into the budget that’s already strained by health care costs and limited revenue sources.

Mark Lankford’s 1984 murder conviction was overturned by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2007 due to a jury instruction error.

He was convicted again in 2008, but the Idaho Supreme Court ruled Monday that he’s entitled to a new trial because prosecutors violated his constitutional rights to a fair trial.

Lankford and his younger brother, Bryan Lankford, were convicted of the 1983 beating deaths of 27-year-old U.S. Marine Capt. Robert Bravence and his 25-year-old wife, Cheryl Bravence, of El Paso, Texas.

Authorities said the brothers hid the bodies of the couple in the Idaho wilderness after clubbing them to death and took their vehicle, money and credit cards on a trip to California.

“I think we’re going to be able to suck up that $250,000 and be able to manage without it,” said County Clerk Kathy Ackerman. “We can’t ask taxpayers to fund that because it would be over our levy limit. … A lot of it is very fluid and that’s a very frustrating thing for the public to understand.”

The cases against the two brother during the past three decades have already cost the county about $676,000, according to the Idaho County Clerk’s Office. That includes $48,000 for Mark Lankford’s first trial and $354,000 for his retrial in Shoshone County.

“As much as anybody I want to make sure people don’t get wrongly convicted,” Chmelik said. “But there’s no doubt in my mind these two brothers did this. It’s a shame we have a system that allows this to go on.”


Information from: Lewiston Tribune, https://www.lmtribune.com

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