Trial begins for teen accused of killing father, brother

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COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) — A Coeur d'Alene teenager accused of killing his father and younger brother two years ago heads to court this week.

Eldon Gale Samuel III, 16, is being charged as an adult in the killing of his father, 46-year-old Eldon Samuel Jr., and his 13-year-old brother, Jonathan Samuel, reported The Spokesman-Review ( ). He was 14 at the time of the killings.

Jury selection begins Monday, and more than 130 Kootenai County residents have been summoned for the jury pool.

Samuel is accused of shooting his father and shooting, stabbing and hacking at Jonathan repeatedly with a machete on March 24, 2014. The teen called 911 that night and officers found him standing out front in bloody clothes.

Police took Samuel to the station, where he waived his right to an attorney.

Officers said the teenager told them he feared his father, who beat him, would kill him. He told police his dad was high on painkillers, fired a gun outside the house and started talking about zombies, according to court records. Samuel said his dad also started hitting and pushing him.

He told police he shot his father and then went after his autistic brother, who was hiding under a bed. Samuel blamed Jonathan's disability for the family's problems, according to the police transcript.

Samuel initially was charged with first-degree murder in both deaths, but the charge was changed to second-degree murder in the father's death after the younger Samuel said his father abused him.

Police say Samuel showed no remorse and said he'd contemplated and prepared for the killings for months.

Samuel's attorney, however, argued that the teen was sleep-deprived and on prescription medication when police interrogated him. The attorney, Kootenai County Public Defender John Adams, also said police coerced him into waiving his Miranda rights.

Adams asked the court to throw out the statements the teen made to police and evidence gathered against him after his arrest.

"They lied to him and misled him over and over again," he told Senior Judge Benjamin R. Simpson.

Simpson, who will preside over the four-week trial, ruled last January that Samuel knew what he was doing.

The defense team has also raised questions about Samuel's mental state at the time of the killings, but the insanity defense was abolished in Idaho in 1982. Adams unsuccessfully challenged that change in the law.

Defense attorneys have gathered thousands of pages of documents about Samuel's difficult upbringing in California, which could play a major role at trial.

According to the boys' half-brother, Anthony Samuel, their father was a recovering drug user trying to get his life back on track. The family moved from California to Coeur d'Alene in 2013 to be closer to Eldon Samuel Jr.'s father.

Anthony Samuel told The Spokesman-Review that the teenage Eldon had a history of violence.

"We all knew he was not exactly right, but we'd never think that this would happen," said Anthony Samuel.


Information from: The Spokesman-Review,

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