Change of plea in case

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SANDPOINT — A Sagle man accused of luring a 13-year-old into sexual activity over the internet is changing his plea, according to 1st District Court records.

Justin Lyle Gibson pleaded not guilty to rape, enticing a minor and sexual exploitation of a child in July, clearing the way for a trial in December. Court documents, however, indicate Gibson is changing his plea.

A hearing on the change of plea is set for Dec. 9.

The move comes three days after a pretrial conference in which it became apparent there was no resolution to the case outside of a trial.

The allegations surfaced in May, after Bonner County sheriff’s investigators received a time-sensitive cyber tip from Facebook through the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. The social media network reported that a 13-year-old user was engaging in a sexual discussion online, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Excerpts of Facebook Messenger chats indicated that Gibson picked the teen up at the Sandpoint library on April 14 and he later asked if her whereabouts had been questioned. There was also an unambiguous discussion about their sexual activity, according to court documents.

Gibson, 33, also allegedly sent the teen a nude photo, but he was not successful in obscuring his identity, court records said.

Search warrant documents indicate that bedding, mobile phones, a laptop computer, digital video discs and five computer hard drives were seized as evidence in the case. Marijuana and drug pipes were also recovered, court records show.

Gibson faced three additional counts of lewd and lascivious conduct, although Chief Public Defender Susie Jensen argued that they were unconstitutionally duplicative. First District Judge Barbara Buchanan agreed, finding that the charges violated double jeopardy clauses in the U.S. and Idaho constitutions, court records show.

Gibson is being held at the Bonner County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail despite repeated requests to have the sum lowered or be granted own-recognizance release. The matter of bail will be revisited during Gibson’s change-of-plea hearing, court documents indicate.

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

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