Idaho teen charged with murder held in solitary confinement for over 70 days

"He's being punished before he's been convicted," public defender argues.
By Matt Bradwell  |  July 24, 2014 at 5:21 PM
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COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho, July 24 (UPI) -- A 15-year-old in Idaho accused of murdering his father and brother has been in solitary confinement for over 70 days while he waits for his trial to begin.

Prosecutors say Eldon Gale Samuel III, then 14, admitted to fatally shooting his father before brutally hacking his 13-year-old brother to death. The incident came after Samuel's father, Eldon Samuel Jr., beat the teenager and kicked him out of their home.

Despite six incident-free weeks in a juvenile detention center, Samuel was moved back to a maximum security facility out of fear he was a threat to others. When Samuel was first sent to Kootenai County Jail, he was held in solitary confinement for over 70 days.

Because Idaho law prohibits minors from being jailed with adult inmates or even hearing their voices, prison officials have to keep Samuel in a 9-by-12 foot medical holding cell, where he was returned in early July.

"I can't put him next door to a bunch of men who are going to be yelling at him all night," Andy Deak, custody division commander for the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office, told the LA Times.

"The jail's a dark place sometimes, and inmates yell at each other to instigate them; he's young.... It's the safest place in the jail for him, short of building a new wing or something for him. We very rarely get juveniles."

"He's being punished before he's been convicted," counters John M. Adams, Samuel's public defender.

"He's losing sleep, he's starting to hallucinate and he's angry.... Since he's been in solitary, I have seen his physical and emotional and mental state all deteriorate."

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