Another motion hearing Jan. 13 resulted in Jefferson County Public Defender John Stosich receiving approval to move forward in seeking qualified death penalty counsel for Jesse Sterling Gentle, 21, of Idaho Falls, who has been charged with felony first degree murder.
Gentle is currently being held in the Jefferson County Jail for $750,000 bond.
Magistrate Judge Robert Crowley asked Stosich if he was on the roster of those qualified for death penalty counsel and Stosich responded that he has never sought to be on the roster.
Stosich presented and stated that he would not be seeking an appointment to death penalty counsel as defenders on death penalty cases must reduce their caseloads in order to provide adequate representation to clients.
Although he is not on the roster, Stosich said he would want to be appointed as co-counsel in case the state does not decide to seek the death penalty in order to provide seamless representation if death penalty counsel is ultimately not required.
The motion proceeded with agreement from Stosich and the state, who was represented by newly appointed Serhiy Stavynskyy from the Prosecuting Attorney's office.
The next hearing will be set once representation for Gentle is straightened out, which Stosich said he believes can be done in about a week and a half. At that time, a Zoom planning call will take place to set the next hearing.
According to Stosich, the four defenders on the death penalty counsel roster that are more local to the area all have pending death penalty cases.
Gentle was arrested for allegedly murdering 72-year-old Merle Jay Sorenson of Idaho Falls Nov. 17. The incident took place at a home in Jefferson County where Gentle and Sorenson were with Gentle's aunt.
Officers received a call of a shooting. According to reports, the two were smoking marijuana and according to Gentle's aunt, Gentle was also using an unknown substance with syringes.
She reported that she heard gunshots later that night and found Sorenson with blood on his shirt.
The aunt called police who arrived on scene at approximately 2:00 a.m. Nov. 17 and according to Jefferson County Sheriff Steve Anderson, two weapons were recovered as a part of the investigation.