By John Dowd 

Murder suspects enter pleas


October 29, 2020

Two homicides came before the district court Tuesday. Both occurred in Hot Springs in the same week; one on Wednesday, October 7 and one on Thursday, October 8. The first defendant to appear was Rachel Bellesen, who has been charged with the murder of her ex-husband, Jacob Glace on October 8, with a firearm. According to the police report, she shot Glace least five times. During her initial appearance at court on Tuesday, Bellesen pleaded not guilty and that the act was in self-defense, protecting herself from sexual assault. According to her defense attorney, Glace had several prior person or family member assaults (PFMAs) one of which is still pending in Sanders County. He had been convicted of one already and is still under felony charges for another involving another woman with whom he has several kids.

Bellensen herself is on probation for a felony DUI and has several priors, though her council argued that she has been released from supervision regarding that probation. The defense also pushed for a lowering of bail and release on her own recognizance, both of which were granted. Because of the testimonies several witnesses brought forth by the defense, including her former employer, her son and her counselor, Judge Manley sought to side with the defense. Her bail was reduced from $200,000 to $20,000 and she is released on the terms of paying that bail, agree to be supervised by an alcohol monitoring device and refraining from entering Sanders County outside of court purposes. Her trail has been set for April 26, 2021.

The second to appear by video was Aaron Eugene McLaughlin, who has been brought up on charges of deliberate homicide of his roommate. According to police reports, McLaughlin called 911 after an altercation with his roommate in which he badly beat the victim, Raymond Wachlin, who subsequently died from his injuries upon discovery of the body. McLaughlin pleaded not guilty and his trial is set for April 26, 2021.

Sanders County Ledger canvas prints

Before Judge Deborah "Kim" Christopher last week, Bailey Lake, a 23 year old from Thompson Falls, changed his plea to guilty. He was charged with criminal possession of dangerous drugs, which were found in his room by the property owner with whom he was staying. Sentencing for his case was set for December 1.

Also in 20th Judicial District Court last week, Anthony Waller of Thompson Falls faced sentencing. Waller was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol for the fourth or subsequent offense. Waller received a sentence with the Department of Corredctions for 13 months and a suspended sentence of five years to run concurrent with it.


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