(Bannock County Prosecutor’s Office Press Release, August 14, 2023; Photo credit: downardfuneralhome.com)
Bannock County Prosecutor, Stephen Herzog, announced the state and defense have agreed to enter into mediation in the case against Lance Peck, former owner of the Downard Funeral Home & Crematory.
Mediation is scheduled for August 18, 2023, with a Sixth District Senior District Judge. Peck is currently charged with 63 misdemeanors. After further investigation by the Bannock County Prosecutor’s Office, in collaboration with Pocatello Police, the Idaho State Tax Commission, the Idaho Insurance Commission, and federal partners, the prosecution has identified multiple felony crimes the State has reason to believe were also committed by the defendant.
The decision to enter into mediation was made in order to try to provide a swift, fair outcome for the families affected by Peck’s alleged action. By avoiding a trial, families would not have to endure the stress of testifying at trial, and they will know the outcome agreed to rather than wondering how a jury of strangers will decide when given the case.
“It’s hard to say what a ‘just’ resolution looks like in this case because there has never been a case like this in our community, nor one that has impacted so many people. I believe this case certainly warrants the imposition of a substantial sentence,” Prosecutor Herzog said.
If this case were to go to trial, it is likely trial would last at least four weeks and possibly more. Additionally, the trial may not start for more than a year from now, given the logistics for both the prosecution and the defense in preparing a case of this nature. Given the publicity of this case, the trial would likely be held in another jurisdiction, or a jury would be selected from another jurisdiction and transported to Bannock County, with the possibility of sequestering the jury members for the duration of the trial.
“When thinking of the families impacted, the benefits of mediation outweigh the benefits of a trial. We will be able to provide some degree of closure for the families in the near future rather than dragging them through what could be another year of stress. Of course, this all depends on how mediation goes,” Prosecutor Herzog said.
The Prosecutor’s Office is inviting family members affected by the actions of the defendant to submit their input about what they feel is a fair resolution by emailing email@example.com.
All suspects of a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.