SANDPOINT — A former Bonner County man accused of murdering his wife in 2004 entered an Alford plea on Tuesday to an amended charge of voluntary manslaughter.
Under the terms of the plea, Stephen Mathew Lott admits no wrongdoing but concedes he could be convicted if the case went before a jury. The pleas, however, will be regarded no differently than guilty pleas when he is sentenced in 1st District Court in September.
Lott, 49, remains held at the Bonner County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail. He is also charged with failing to report a death to authorities.
Christine Lott disappeared in 2004.
The state and the defense agreed in May to enter into civil litigation to resolve the criminal matter.
A Bonner County grand jury indicted Lott on a charge of first-degree murder last year. Lott was living in Murfreesboro, Tenn., at the time of his arrest.
Lott had long been considered a suspect in his wife’s disappearance. He told investigators that he saw her get into a vehicle outside a grocery store along U.S. Highway 2 and depart the area. Members of Christine Lott’s family, however, disputed that the mother of three would ever abandon her children.
Court documents allege Christine Lott was slain in Bonner County and her remains were secretly concealed in a remote and forested area in Kootenai County. Her remains were uncovered in 2016.
Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall said he was pleased with the outcome of the mediation.
“Christine Lott suffered a fate she did not deserve. Everyone who knew her said she was a sweet person and a great mother,” said Marshall
Marshall believes Christine Lott was killed as result of a fight over her eldest son being kicked out of house by Stephen Lott who fabricated the story about her disappearance.
“I can’t imagine the pain these boys have had to endure, along with her mom, dad and sisters,” Marshall said.
Marshall added that detectives Gary Johnston and Gary Northrup, in addition to other investigators devoted thousands of hours to the case all because Stephen Lott perpetuated a lie.
Marshall said Lott faces up to 25 years in prison and the state will be advocating for a lengthy term.
Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.