The man accused of brutally murdering his wife was back in court Monday. Police say Michael Lane Sparks used premeditation and malice when he beat his estranged wife to death with a rifle and a baseball bat.
It’s been over a year and half since police say Judith Rachel Johnson was bludgeoned to death in front of her kids by Michael Lane Sparks in a home on Pocatello’s west side.
The first degree murder charge in this brutal death was first brought forth back in May of 2011. The defense said that they needed at least 60 days to get ready and Judge Stephen S. Dunn granted their request by initially setting a trial date of October 18, 2011.
It has now been 588 days since Judith’s death and a verdict has yet to be reached.
One reason for the slow pace could be delays from the state lab. The defense has yet to see the finger print analysis and Judge Dunn is growing impatient.
In Monday’s hearing, the judge demanded the prosecution to up the pressure on the lab and try and get the finger print evidence by the start of the new year.
Sparks has maintained his innocence from the beginning and he entered a not guilty plea back in August of last year.
The judge also requested the case be submitted to criminal mediation with Judge Naftz. In the meantime, Sparks remains behind bars in the Bannock County Jail on a $1 million bond.