Hearing is reset in Bristow case

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SANDPOINT — A plea hearing is being pushed back for a Ponderay man implicated in the murder of Tammy Rae Bristow in 1987.

William Rey Acosta was scheduled to enter a plea a to a charge of first-degree murder on Monday, but his defense counsel requested a one-month continuance in order to allow further the exchange of evidence with the prosecution, court records show.

Acosta is being held at the Bonner County Jail with bail set at $1 million. An entry-of-plea hearing has been reset for Sept. 9 in 1st District Court.

A Bonner County grand jury indicted Acosta on the charge in June, 32 years after Bristow was found strangled in her Atone Street apartment. A ligature of tent guy line was found around her neck, according to Bonner County Daily Bee news archives.

A 31-year-old homeless man was initially suspected of killing Bristow on Jan. 8, 1987. He was found with a Bible Bristow was known to carry, although authorities were unable to conclusively link him to the killing.

The limitations of DNA testing during that era slowed the case. Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall and Sandpoint Police Chief Corey Coon agreed in 2016 to reopen the investigation. DNA evidence collected from Bristow’s fingernails were entered into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, also known as CODIS. The system produced match with Acosta’s DNA.

Acosta appears to have split his time between Idaho and Arizona after the killing. He served prison time in Arizona for felony assaults in the early 2000s.

His conviction in Arizona appears to have caused his DNA to be entered into CODIS.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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