Judge to decide boat deaths case

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A judge will decide today if the driver in a boat crash that killed three people on Lake Coeur d’Alene two years ago conspired to lie to police.

First District Judge Cynthia K.C. Meyer will also rule on whether Dennis Magner’s previous DUI convictions should be allowed in Monday’s jury trial and if the jury should hear the criminal history of an alleged co-conspirator in the case.

Meyer will rule on these and other issues at an 11 a.m. hearing in Coeur d’Alene.

Magner, of Spokane, entered not guilty pleas to three counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of criminal conspiracy related to the investigation of the July 30, 2016, boat crash that claimed the lives of Caitlin Breeze, 21, of Spokane; Justin Luhr, 34, of Medical Lake; and Justin Honken, 31, of Post Falls.

Magner was allegedly operating a boat carrying four passengers that crashed into a another vessel occupied by Breeze, Luhr and Honken.

According to Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office investigators, several people on Magner’s boat, including Magner, provided false information about the identity of the boat’s driver before they knew that three people died in the crash.

“In the days following the crash, information became public that three people were missing and presumed drowned,” according to the Sheriff’s Office. “It was then that three of the occupants aboard Magner’s boat recanted their original statements to deputies and identified Magner as the person actually operating the vessel at the time of the crash.”

One of those passengers, Jonathan C. Sweat, 40, of Spokane, is also charged with criminal conspiracy and attorneys for the defense have asked that Sweat’s criminal record not be revealed to jurors because it could be prejudicial.

Defense attorneys Carl Oreskovich and Andy Wagley have also asked the court to dismiss the conspiracy charge and not reveal Magner’s prior DUIs.

Prosecutors also asked the court to not reveal the blood alcohol levels of the victims, arguing it is irrelevant.

A jury trial is scheduled at 9 a.m. Monday in Coeur d’Alene.

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