Former Idaho death row inmate headed back to prison after ‘heated argument’ over dog

Donald Manuel Paradis
Donald Manuel Paradis Ada County Sheriff's Office

After 21 years in prison — 14 of them on death row — Donald Manuel Paradis walked out of an Idaho courtroom on April 10, 2001, as a free man.

This week, an Ada County judge ruled Paradis will be sent back to prison after he pleaded guilty to aggravated battery and use of a firearm during the commission of a crime, both felonies.

The charges stem from a Sept. 26, 2017, incident in Paradis’ Boise home.

According to court records, Paradis and Richard Myers, a friend who had been living with Paradis, got into a “heated argument.” During the argument, “Myers kicked one of Paradis’ dogs and yelled profanities at the dog and Paradis,” according to the records.

Paradis told Myers he needed to sober up and leave. Paradis then went to the gym. When he returned two hours later, Myers was still there and “gave Paradis every indication he was not going to leave peacefully,” according to the records.

The situation escalated. In his witness statement, Myers claims Paradis “shoved him in the back of his neck with a pistol.” During a subsequent 911 call and police interview, Myers indicated he was not injured, although two days later he did go to a doctor.

Based on Myers’ reports, police charged Paradis.

Paradis admitted that “he brandished a pistol that fires BB’s and pellets in an effort to scare the charging complainant” in a court document written by Paradis’ attorney, Bill Mauk.

Mauk writes Paradis’ objective was to get “a drunk and belligerent guest in his home to leave peacefully, stop him from abusing his dogs, doing damage to his property, and keeping a volatile situation from escalating to something worse.”

Mauk continued, “While he did not intend to harm Myers, Paradis acknowledged that by his conduct, he caused Myers to believe he was threatening to do him harm.”

Mauk and the pre-sentence investigator both recommended Paradis be given probation.

Prosecutors recommended Paradis be sentenced to 15 years incarceration with three years fixed.

Idaho 4th Judicial District Court Judge Melissa Moody compromised, sentencing Paradis on Dec. 11 to 15 years incarceration with three years fixed. However, the judge retained jurisdiction for up to one year, meaning she will review Paradis’ progress during that time to determine if he should be released, placed on probation or remain in prison to complete some or all of his sentence.

As of Thursday, Paradis, 69, is still in the Ada County Jail awaiting transfer to prison, Mauk told the Statesman.

Paradis was sentenced to death in 1980 in the strangling of Kimberly Palmer in northern Idaho.

Then-Gov. Phil Batt commuted Paradis’ death sentence in 1996, saying he did not believe Paradis had killed Palmer.

Following several years of appeals, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that Paradis had been denied a fair trial and ordered he be released or retried.

Instead of retrying Paradis, prosecutors agreed to a plea agreement in which Paradis pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of being an accessory to murder. He was sentenced to five years in prison, and he was given credit for time served.

After his release from prison, Paradis in 2003 sued Kootenai County for wrongful imprisonment. He received a $900,000 settlement in 2006.

Since his release from prison 17 years, Paradis has had several traffic infractions, according to court records, but he was not charged with any crimes until September 2017.

Idaho Statesman investigative reporter Cynthia Sewell was named the 2017 Idaho Press Club reporter of the year. A University of Oregon graduate, she joined the Statesman in 2005. Her family has lived in Idaho since the mid-1800s.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.