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Prosecutors rest case against Dennis Magner in deadly boat crash trial

July 31, 2018

Prosecutors have finished their case against Dennis Magner, the former Spokane advertising executive on trial for the deaths of three people in a Lake Coeur d’Alene boat crash two years ago.

Magner, who may take the stand in his own defense as early as Tuesday, was reportedly driving his Mastercraft boat with four passengers on Lake Coeur d’Alene about 50 minutes after sunset when they crashed into a Formula vessel that had its navigation lights turned off on July 30, 2016.

The occupants of the other boat, Justin Luhr, 34, Justin Honken, 21, and Caitlyn Breeze, 21, all sustained fatal, incapacitating injuries, fell into the lake and drowned. Their bodies were recovered a few days later.

Magner and the other passengers in their boat, who were injured, told a deputy that Jonathan Sweat had been driving the vessel. After they discovered that the people in the Formula boat were missing and had potentially drowned, they admitted to law enforcement that Magner had been driving. On Monday, a detective who investigated the crash testified about text messages between Magner and Sweat that prosecutors allege showed the two were conspiring in the days after the crash.

The state’s final witness in Magner’s involuntary manslaughter trial, Kootenai County Detective Todd Jackson, told jurors that he had attempted to recreate the events of that night with similar weather and lighting conditions, using Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department vessels.

Jackson told the court that even with just a sliver of moonlight they could see the outline of the other boat in their scenario.

Magner’s attorney, Carl Oreskovich, noted that Jackson and other county employees who were aiding him in re-creating the scenario were looking for the other boat, while Magner and his passengers on the night of the crash were not.

Oreskovich also questioned the record keeping and planning that went into the scenario. Jackson said he did not use GPS coordinates when he attempted to copy the circumstances that led to the crash and he also did not file a report or create a record documenting his re-creation of events, relying on his memory to retell it.

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