Accused Idaho cannibal deemed competent to stand trial

Sandpoint, Idaho: James David Russell has been involuntarily committed to the Idaho Security Medical Program since October 7, 2021 when First District Magistrate Judge Tera A. Harden determined that he unfit to proceed with the trial.


Russell, now 40, has been charged with murder and cannibalism related to the September 10, 2021 death of 70-year-old David Flaget.


On Tuesday, April 5, Harden received a competency evaluation from Doctor of Psychology Kimberly Smith which found Russell to now be able to participate in and understand court proceedings.


"The report indicates that the defendant is now fit to proceed,' the Bonner County Daily Bee quoted Harden as saying during proceedings on Monday, April 11. "The Idaho Department of Corrections is requesting that the defendant be transported back to the Bonner County Jail prior to the status hearing and arraignment on the amended  complaint."


That arraignment took place on Friday, April 15 according to court records.


The Bonner County Daily Bee reports that while Russell has no criminal history in Idaho, he does have a history in California and Montana.


A brief court record search indicates an unknown charge out of San Diego, California that was filed on May 6, 2021, but the records are not available online. Montana court records do not appear to be searchable online.


Russell's two-day preliminary hearing has been scheduled for June 13 and 14.