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Idaho court upholds conviction, sentence in stabbing

Published: Saturday, Dec. 10 2011 9:44 p.m. MST

POCATELLO, Idaho — The Idaho Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction and life sentence given to a Pocatello man convicted of stabbing a classmate to death when he was 16.

The Supreme Court published its 3-2 decision on Tuesday, more than a year after hearing arguments in the appeal filed by Torey Adamcik. Adamcik was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the September 2006 stabbing death of Pocatello High classmate Cassie Jo Stoddart.

Stoddart was stabbed 29 times while she was house-sitting for relatives in Chubbuck.

A co-defendant, Brian Draper, had his conviction and sentence upheld in September, five months after the appeal was heard in his case.

"We were disappointed in Brian Draper's opinion, as well as Torey's," said attorney Dennis Benjamin. "They are different cases, but have a number of things in common, among them the life sentences without parole. The trend nationally and even internationally is moving away from life without parole for juveniles."

Benjamin's appeal argued prosecutors lacked evidence that Adamcik stabbed Stoddart or that any stab wounds he may have inflicted was a deadly wound. He also argued the court erred in denying a motion to suppress statements Adamcik made while in custody, that the jury was not properly instructed and that prosecutors made mistakes in their closing argument.

Benjamin also challenged the District Court's denial of his post-trial motion for a reduction in sentence because, he argued, the sentence amounted to cruel and unusual punishment because Adamcik was a juvenile when the stabbing occurred. He should be given the opportunity to be released eventually, the attorney said.

Any further appeals would be made to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but Benjamin said that's up to Adamcik and his family. "I assume he's not going to give up. He's a young man. I wouldn't concede the next 60 years of my life," Benjamin said.

Bannock County prosecutor Mark Hiedeman and chief deputy prosecutor Vic Pearson were pleased with the Idaho Supreme Court's ruling. "It doesn't bring (Cassie Jo) back, it doesn't explain why this horrific crime had to happen, but at least we know that some justice has been affirmed today," Pearson said.

Cassie Jo's mother, Anna Stoddart, said the Supreme Court's decision was a relief.

"I was getting a little nervous because they came up with Draper's so quickly," she said.

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