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Thomas trial draws national news coverage

Peggy Sue Thomas listens to advice from attorney Craig Platt during a court hearing in 2012. Thomas faces her sentencing for involvement in the 2003 murder of Russel Douglas.  - Record file
Peggy Sue Thomas listens to advice from attorney Craig Platt during a court hearing in 2012. Thomas faces her sentencing for involvement in the 2003 murder of Russel Douglas.
— image credit: Record file

Peggy Sue Thomas will be sentenced Friday morning for her role in a 2003 murder on South Whidbey.

Then on Friday night, Thomas and her ex-boyfriend, convicted murderer James Huden, will be featured on a two-hour Dateline report on the slaying of Russel Douglas. The NBC news magazine show begins at 8 p.m.

A few familiar Whidbey Island faces will also appear on the show, including Detective Mark Plumberg with the Island County Sheriff’s Office and Prosecutor Greg Banks.

Under the listing, the story is described as “a love triangle involving a beauty queen, a devoted wife and a guitar hero leads to murder, and an investigation that stretches across the country and takes years to unfold. Josh Mankiewicz reports.”

Thomas, 47, was scheduled to go to trial last month for first-degree murder. Instead, she pleaded guilty under a plea bargain to a lesser charge of rendering criminal assistance in the first degree. Under the definition of the crime, Thomas was admitting to helping Huden after the murder.

Thomas then went on TV news and proclaimed that she was innocent.

Thomas was originally accused of helping her ex-boyfriend, James Huden, kill Douglas on a lonely Wahl Road in rural Freeland two days after Christmas of 2003. Investigators suspected that she lured 32-year-old Douglas to the ambush with the promise of a gift, court documents indicate.

Huden was convicted of first-degree murder following a trial last summer and sentenced to 80 years in prison. Yet his motive for the crime and connection to Douglas remained unclear. Thomas, his mistress, worked with Douglas’ wife, Brenna Douglas, at a Langley beauty salon.

Friday, Banks will recommend that the judge hand Thomas a four-year sentence, which is the maximum under the standard range.

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