Bail set at $10 million for fugitive in Freeland murder

COUPEVILLE — Flanked by two sheriff’s deputies, accused killer James “Jim” Huden made his first appearance in an Island County courtroom Tuesday after nearly eight years on the run.

Huden was arrested on June 9 in Mexico, and returned to Whidbey Island on Monday to face first-degree murder charges in the killing of Russel A. Douglas on Dec. 26, 2003 in Freeland.

Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks asked that bail be set far above the $1 million mark set in 2005.

“Because Mr. Huden is a proven flight risk, and apparently was able to avoid authorities, had some means of support in Mexico for almost eight years, we ask that bail be set at $10 million,” Banks said.

Superior Court Judge Vickie Churchill agreed, and also imposed multiple other conditions sought by Banks, including a request that Huden be barred from contacting potential witnesses.

Peter Simpson, Huden’s attorney, did not challenge the bail conditions but said he wanted to keep those options open for a later date.

He also told the court that Huden would remain silent, and not even answer to his name if asked by the court.

“He will not be answering any questions, he will not be making any statements in court,” Simpson said.

“That is in the nature of the case — to preserve any issue that may be present to protect our client,” he said.

Huden, unshaven and with long, straggly blond-and-gray hair that stretched down to the bottom of the short sleeves on his bright orange jail uniform, stared down for most of the short court appearance. He closed his eyes for long moments, and did not look into the seating area of the court during his entrance or exit from the courtroom.

At the close of the hearing, Banks presented Huden’s lawyer with the charging documents for first-degree murder from 2005.

For several minutes, Simpson spoke with Huden in a whisper as they looked over the documents, with Huden slowly nodding his head as the lawyer made his way through the paperwork.

Investigators claim that Huden and his girlfriend met Douglas the day after Christmas so Douglas could collect a Christmas gift the pair had brought for his wife.

Detectives later said they had retrieved the murder weapon, a .380-caliber handgun that Huden had given to a friend in Las Vegas, Nev. for safekeeping shortly after he returned from visiting Whidbey Island.

Huden was arrested earlier this month in Guadalajara, Mexico, where authorities said he was living and giving guitar lessons under the name “Maestro Jim.”

Huden’s arraignment has been set for July 11.

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