Man exonerated after 14 years on Death Row charged in assault case

There are conflicting accounts of what happened.

BOISE -- A man who spent 20 years in an Idaho prison for murder before being exonerated is now facing new charges.

Donald Manuel Paradis, 68, was arrested Tuesday night for aggravated assault.

The victim told police he had gotten into an argument with Paradis inside the suspect's Boise home, culminating in Paradis pulling out a nine-millimeter handgun and pressing to the back of the victim's head.

Lawyers for Paradis painted a different picture, telling Judge Terry McDaniels that the victim - a homeless man Paradis had allowed to stay with him for several weeks - was extremely intoxicated at the time and had become belligerent and threatening.

Defense attorney Joseph Miller said the men quarreled after the victim mistreated Paradis' dog. Miller said when Paradis asked the other man to leave, the victim refused, and instead ran around Paradis' home, knocking things off the walls.

It was at that point, Miller said, that Paradis grabbed a BB gun - not a nine-millimeter - and "poked" the victim with it.

Another defense attorney, Bill Mauk, also noted that Paradis had not been in any trouble with the law since he was released from prison in 2001.

Paradis was sentenced to die for strangling Kimberly Palmer to death in North Idaho during in the 1980's. He maintained that although Palmer and Scott Currier were killed at his house in Spokane, he was not home at the time, and wasn't involved in the murders.

Paradis did admit to helping dispose of the bodies by wrapping them in sleeping bags and dumping them across the state line in Post Falls.

He was acquitted at trial of Currier's slaying in Washington, but when tried for Palmer's death in Idaho, he was convicted of first-degree murder.

The case against hinged on testimony by a medical examiner, even though private attorneys later discovered the prosecution had withheld evidence that contradicted that testimony.

After spending 14 years on Death Row awaiting execution, Paradis' sentence was commuted to life in prison in 1996 by then-governor Phil Batt. Five years later, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the murder conviction entirely.

Paradis pleaded guilty to acting as an accessory to murder after the fact for his role in disposing of the bodies, and was sentenced to time served. He was released from prison April 10, 2001.

Paradis was later awarded a $900,000 settlement for wrongful imprisonment.

Mauk said in court Wednesday that Paradis had not gotten into any trouble with the law since leaving prison, and urged the judge not to consider the overturned murder sentence when setting a bond.

Prosecutors asked McDaniels to set a $150,000 bond but the judge - who barred news cameras from the courtroom - ultimately decided to release Paradis into the custody of his own defense attorneys. The ruling means Paradis must stay within the "care and control" of his lawyers, who are tasked with making sure he shows up for court.

A preliminary hearing in the case was set for Oct. 18. If convicted of aggravated assault, Paradis could face up to five years in prison.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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