Deal cut to release once-condemned murder defendant

Monday, April 9th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BOISE, Idaho (AP) _ A man who has spent 21 years in prison _ including 14 years on death row _ for murder will be allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge and walk free after winning a ruling that he was denied a fair trial.

Donald Manuel Paradis, 52, convicted of killing Kimberly Ann Palmer in northern Idaho, will appear at a hearing Tuesday and plead guilty to a charge of being an accessory after the fact in the slaying, prosecutors and defense lawyers said Monday.

Paradis has maintained for two decades that he was not involved in the 1980 slaying but only helped his co-defendant move the 19-year-old woman's body.

The deal for his release comes a month after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that the one-time motorcycle gang member was denied a fair trial because prosecution notes withheld from the defense could have allowed him to discredit a key witness.

The appellate panel gave the state 60 days to retry Paradis or free him.

There was no immediate indication why prosecutors agreed to drop further appeals.

Paradis, whose death sentence was commuted by former Gov. Phil Batt in 1996, and co-defendant Thomas Henry Gibson, 49, have contended throughout that Palmer was not killed in Idaho and that they could not be convicted in this state.

Gibson's conviction and death sentence also was overturned on grounds that his attorney failed to adequately question prosecution claims that the death occurred in Idaho. He agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder in return for his release in 2003.