Murder suspect imprisoned on eluding charge

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James Costello Sr.

COEUR d’ALENE — A Cocolalla man awaiting trial for second-degree murder in Bonner County was ordered on Wednesday to serve up to three years in prison in a felony eluding case in Kootenai County.

James Michael Costello Sr.’s arrest for drunken driving and eluding led to the discovery of his adult son’s body in a converted bus they once shared in Cocolalla in November of last year. James Michael Costello Jr. died of a gunshot wound.

A Kootenai County jury convicted the elder Costello of a second-offense DUI and felony eluding in September.

At sentencing, Kootenai County Deputy Prosecutor Stanley Mortenson recommended a five-year term because Costello Sr. endangered the safety of a number of motorists on U.S. Highway 95. Speeds reached 90 mph and Costello’s GMC Sierra pickup truck was stopped when a law officer implemented a precision immobilization technique, according to court documents.

Public Defender Amanda Montalvo recommended a suspended prison term due to Costello’s advanced age, myriad health problems and the loss of all his possessions, court records indicate.

First District Judge Lansing Haynes expressed doubt that Costello would thrive on probation and was rated a high re-offense risk, court documents said. Haynes imposed a three-year term on the eluding charge, the first two years of which are fixed, records show.

Costello, 72, was given a 180-day jail term, but was given credit for 180 days of pretrial incarceration. Haynes also suspended Costello’s driving privileges for three years once he’s released by the Idaho Department of Correction.

Costello is accused of shooting his son to death with a .45-caliber pistol during an alcohol-fueled argument aboard the bus. In an audio recording culled from a video surveillance system aboard the bus, the younger Costello can be heard alternately threatening suicide and ordering his father to kill him. He is also heard threatening his father’s life.

“Get in my face and I will kill you,” the elder Costello warns his son in one of the recording’s final utterances.

The surveillance system was disabled immediately before the younger Costello was slain.

James Costello Sr. is scheduled to be tried in Bonner County next month.

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

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