• Thu. Jun 30th, 2022

Man accused of killing neighbor before cooking and eating body parts

ByRandall B. Phelps

Apr 21, 2022

Authorities in Idaho, US say James David Russell has been deemed mentally fit to stand trial for the murder and alleged cannibalism of David Flaget

James David Russell has been found ‘mentally fit’ to stand trial

A cannibal who cooked and ate parts of a man’s body could be executed after psychiatrists declare him sane and fit to stand trial.

Authorities in Idaho, US were shocked when the case first emerged last year.

Since then, a succession of mental evaluations took place until it was finally determined that he was not insane.

The Bonner County Daily Bee reports that the man is charged with first degree murder and cannibalism.

James David Russell, 40, has been found mentally fit to stand trial on charges stemming from the September 10 murder and alleged cannibalism of David Flaget.

The newspaper reports that since Oct. 7, Russell has been involuntarily committed to the Idaho Medical Security Program, which is an offshoot of the Idaho Department of Corrections.

He has undergone a series of intensive psychological and psychiatric tests and examinations to ensure that he is mentally competent enough to understand and participate in legal proceedings.

David Flaget, a gardener, was the victim in the macabre affair

The document now reveals that on April 5, Trial Judge Tera Harden received a skills assessment from psychology doctor Kimberly Smith determining that Russell is now mentally capable of participating in the court process.

Harden said: “The report indicates that the defendant is now fit to prosecute.

“The Idaho Department of Corrections requests that the defendant be returned to the Bonner County Jail prior to the status hearing and arraignment of the amended complaint (a cannibalism charge now included).”

Russell is currently being held in the Bonner County Jail and will appear in trial court for the first time on Friday.

He is the prime suspect in the September 10 murder of David Flaget, 70, the gardener at the Russell family estate where Russell was staying temporarily at the time.

In December, Bonner County Detective Phillip Stella said, “Flaget had several confrontational run-ins with Russell and spoke to the family about it.

“The family had enough warning signs that Mr. Russell was a danger to himself or others.”

The Bee reports that Flaget was killed near the Old Field House in Clark Fork and a member of the Russell family found him dead in his own truck. It was parked on the family property.

Russell initially fled from Bonner County Sheriff’s Deputies and began a brief standoff before allowing himself to be apprehended in the building he was known to be staying in.

Various pieces of evidence suggesting cannibalism were uncovered by sheriff’s deputies, including a bloodied microwave oven and portions of flesh found inside and outside the building where Russell would stay, the newspaper said.

Russell apparently only gave one statement to law enforcement which he repeated. He said: “It’s private property and we don’t like it having no family on it.”

The maximum penalty for cannibalism is 14 years in prison. First degree murder charges can carry a maximum sentence of life in prison or the possibility of the death penalty.

East Idaho News reported that investigators were unable to locate one of Flaget’s testicles, his penis, and part of his thigh that was removed from his body.

As a result, they wrote in their probable cause affidavit that they believed Russell had eaten the missing body parts.

It is also claimed in court documents that Russell once told his family that he wanted to “cut pieces of his skin with a knife” to “cure his brain”.

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