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Judge rules on 2 motions in Lance Peck, Downard Funeral Home case

Lance Robert Peck | Bannock County Jail
POCATELLO — District Judge Javier Gabiola has issued orders on two motions filed in cases involving a defunct Pocatello funeral home and its former owner.
According to court records obtained by EastIdahoNews.com, Gabiola ordered two separate cases against Lance Robert Peck — one featuring 22 felony charges and the other 63 misdemeanor charges be joined into a single case. Gabiola has also ruled against a motion filed on behalf of Peck requesting his attorney fees be covered at the expense of the public.
RELATED | Charges against former funeral home owner moved to District Court
Peck, 49, owned Downard Funeral Home and the attached Portneuf Valley Crematory when officials from Pocatello, Bannock County, Ada County and the State closed it for a search on Sept. 3, 2021.
During their search, which was prompted when officers searching the perimeter of the building saw a decomposing body through a window, officials found 12 decomposing and unrefrigerated bodies. Some of those bodies were not identified for weeks.
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Following extensive investigation by Pocatello police and the Bannock County Prosecutor’s Office, Peck was charged with 63 misdemeanors — primarily dealing with professional conduct of a mortician. A year later, in Oct. 2023, felony charges were filed — including tax evasion, grand theft and furnishing false information to the office of vital statistics.
Since 2021, 12 separate lawsuits have been filed against Peck, Downard and the crematory — including the latest, filed in February by a debt collection agency.
In March, Bannock County Chief Prosecutor Stephen Herzog filed a Motion For Joinder, requesting the misdemeanor case and felony case be combined. Without opposition from defense attorney Richard Blok, Gabiola ordered in favor of that motion — meaning the cases will be heard together.
On Nov. 16, an application for a public defender was filed. According to Gabiola’s order, Gabiola denied the request at that time.
A second application was filed on Feb 12 — three days before the latest lawsuit. Gabiola heard argument in support of the application on Feb. 14 and “took matters under advisement,” Gabiola’s latest order reads.
“A defendant is entitled to court-appointed counsel if he/she is indigent,” the order continues, adding that the determination of indigence is made by court.
In making that determination, the court — or judge — considers the defendant’s income, property owned, outstanding obligations, the number and ages of the defendant’s dependents and the cost of bail.
Gabiola notes in his order that Peck faces civil suits and “could be, but is not currently, financially liable in those cases.”
The judge further notes that, in the application, Peck says he was unable, in two attempts, to get financing through the equity of his property. Peck also said in the application that he intends to file for bankruptcy — however, “the current record shows that has not been filed,” the order says.
“After considering the applicable statutes … and reasonably considering all the information provided by the defendant, it is clear that, despite other circumstances, the defendant has not met his burden to show that he is currently indigent,” Gabiola states in his order.
RELATED | What we know about Downard Funeral Home, Lance Peck and what’s next in the case
Downard has since been demolished. The property now serves as a parking lot for Pocatello High School across the street.
The charges against Peck have entered mediation.
A status conference has been scheduled for May 28.
The post Judge rules on 2 motions in Lance Peck, Downard Funeral Home case appeared first on East Idaho News.
Source: eastidahonews.com

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