Sixth District Judge William Woodland has withdrawn his earlier acceptance of a guilty plea to first-degree murder from a convicted killer already awaiting execution in Utah.
James Louis Holland, 48, Orlando, Fla., who is appealing his murder conviction and death sentence for the Utah slaying, pleaded guilty in September to the July 4, 1987, slaying of Karl Behm, 24, at an Idaho rest stop just north of the Utah border. The Ohio man was shot twice in the chest and left at the isolated rest stop, where his body was eventually found by a trucker.Holland's plea was entered under an agreement that would result in a fixed life prison sentence instead of the death penalty in Idaho, and Woodland conditionally accepted it.
But the judge has now remanded the case back to Oneida County Magistrate Court for a preliminary hearing date to be set, rescinding the plea of guilty.
Public defender Patricia McDermott said she plans to appeal Woodland's decision to the Idaho Supreme Court in order to force the district judge to honor his previous acceptance of the plea bargain agreement.
Florida police said Holland confessed to the Idaho killing and another in Utah after he was arrested July 13, 1987, in Bonifay, Fla., in connection with a robbery. He pleaded guilty Aug. 31, 1987, to capital murder charges in the July 5, 1986, shooting death of labor contractor Samuel Frank Platt, 70, Winter Haven, Fla. Platt's body was found alongside I-84 near Echo Junction, Summit County.
Holland was sentenced to die by lethal injection in the killing. His death sentence is on automatic appeal to the Utah Supreme Court.