Start of Huden trial is delayed

COUPEVILLE — The trial for accused killer James “Jim” Huden has been pushed back a month.

Huden has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Russel Douglas just after Christmas 2003. Arrested in June in Mexico after nearly seven years on the run, Huden was earlier expected to stand trial in Island County Superior Court starting Aug. 30.

The trial date may change again. A readiness hearing is planned for Nov. 7.

Authorities allege that Huden, 58, shot Douglas in the head after Huden’s mistress, Peggy Sue Thomas, lured him to a remote property in Freeland with the promise of a Christmas present for Brenna Douglas, his wife.

Thomas, 45, once worked for Brenna Douglas at her Langley beauty salon, called Just B.

Police have not given a motive for the crime.

In documents filed in the case, Thomas Pacher, the attorney for Huden, indicated that Huden will claim that he did not commit the murder, or that he was acting in self-defense or defense of another person. According to investigators, Huden’s wife  had earlier told detectives that Huden had admitted to plotting the murder with Thomas and carrying out the crime, and that Russel Douglas was abusive to his wife and children.

Pacher did not immediately return a call for comment on the case from the Record.

In the omnibus application submitted to the court, however, Pacher has asked for the court to dismiss the case, and has also said statements obtained from Huden violated his constitutional rights and that any evidence obtained during his arrest should be suppressed.

Huden remains in Island County jail in lieu of a $10 million appearance bond.

Estimates of the length of the trial have ranged from 10 to 15 days.

Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks said this week it will probably stretch longer than two weeks.

“If I had to guess, I’d say 15 days is more likely than 10. It could be considerably longer,” Banks said. “When we have a better sense of that, we will advise the court.”

Huden faces a minimum prison term of 20 years to life if convicted on the premeditated murder charge, and an additional five years for being armed with a firearm at the time of the crime.

Thomas is also still in custody, though her bail was reduced earlier this month from $5 million to $500,000.

Authorities have suggested that Thomas owns considerable assets that may help her make bail, including a 2006 Lakeview 62-foot houseboat, and two properties in Nevada worth more than $400,000 that she may own.

Her attorney, Craig Platt, has asked the court if she could post an interest in her property to make bail.

Judge Alan Hancock has said it would be acceptable to the court, provided that an appraisal of the property was done to determine the value, and that a security bond or lien would be put in place to guarantee the property was not encumbered.

Thomas is scheduled to face arraignment on a first-degree murder charge on Sept. 26. She also faces a minimum 20-year prison term upon conviction.

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