POCATELLO — The director of the now-closed Downard Funeral Home will enter mediation with the Bannock County Prosecutor’s Office.
Lance Robert Peck, 48, faces 63 misdemeanor charges — 60 counts for unprofessional conduct by a mortician and three counts of petty theft. Bannock County Prosecutor Stephen Herzog and his office have identified “multiple felony crimes” they have reason to believe were committed by Peck, according to a news release from the county.
The release says the prosecution and defense teams will enter mediation before a 6th District senior judge.
Peck was charged in August 2022, almost one year after Downard Funeral Home and the attached Portneuf Valley Crematory were searched by officials. The search was conducted after police responding to calls reporting a foul stench coming from the funeral home saw what they believed to be a decomposing body in plain sight.
By taking these charges to mediation, Herzog hopes to provide a “swift, fair” conclusion for the families affected by Peck’s alleged actions.
“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,” Herzog says in the release. “I believe this case certainly warrants the imposition of a substantial sentence.”
Through the mediation process, Peck, his attorneys and prosecuting attorneys will discuss a potential sentence in the presence of a judge. If the three sides can negotiate what they agree to be a fair punishment, that punishment will be included in a plea agreement.
If mediation is successful, it will allow the many people affected by the alleged crimes to avoid what could be several weeks, and perhaps longer, of highly descriptive trial testimonies.
If mediation is unsuccessful, the trial could be moved to another jurisdiction in order to produce an unbiased jury — which would then possibly require sequestering for the duration.
“When thinking of the families impacted, the benefits of mediation outweigh the benefits of a trial,” Herzog says in the release. “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.”
Read the complete article here.
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