Jesse Gentle enters a Jefferson County courtroom Tuesday morning. | Eric Grossarth, EastIdahoNews.com
RIGBY – An Idaho Falls man accused of shooting and killing another man in Jefferson County appeared in court Tuesday morning.
According to investigators, 21-year-old Jesse Gentle shot and killed 72-year-old Merle Jay Sorenson on November 17 while they were staying with a woman in Jefferson County. The Jefferson County Attorney’s Office has charged Gentle with first degree murder, punishable by the death penalty.
Gentle was scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, but it was postponed due to a motion by defense attorney John Stosich. He asked the court to appoint a death penalty certified attorney to represent Gentle. Jefferson County’s defense lawyers are not qualified to represent those facing the death penalty. Only three attorneys in east Idaho are qualified to serve as principal attorney in such cases.
CONNECTION | The man charged with murder appears for the first time in court
To date, Jefferson County attorneys have not filed any formal intent to seek the death penalty. However, under Idaho lawsuit rules, clients must be represented by qualified lawyers.
A hearing is scheduled for January 13th to see if a soft death penalty attorney should be involved. Those involved in the case requested the appointment after the swearing-in of Jefferson County Attorney-elect Mark Taylor on January 11th.
Until then, the preliminary hearing for Gentle will be postponed.
“It is important that we look at this motion first,” said Judge Robert Crowley.
At the preliminary hearing, prosecutors must provide enough probable reasons to refer the case to the district court, where Gentle will appeal. If there is not enough evidence, the case will be dismissed.
CONNECTION | The man arrested for murder allegedly used bleach to clean up the scene
The soft remains are being held in Jefferson County Jail on bail of $ 750,000. Court documents give no clue as to why Gentle allegedly shot and killed Sorenson, and he refused to speak to investigators.
While Gentle is charged with a crime, it doesn’t necessarily mean he committed it. Everyone is considered innocent until proven guilty.