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Cannibalism Charges Nixed For Idaho Man Who Allegedly Killed, Microwaved Parts Of Elderly Man

James David Russell still faces first degree murder charges in the death of David Flaget last year, but a judge has ruled there is not enough evidence for the state to prosecute him for cannibalism in the case.

By Dorian Geiger
James Russell Pd

A judge has dismissed cannibalism charges against an Idaho man who was accused of killing, mutilating and microwaving the remains of an elderly man.

James David Russell, 40, will no longer face cannibalism charges in the suspected killing of David Milton Flaget last year, according to newly filed court documents, Spokane news outlet KXLY reported.

First District Magistrate Judge Tera Harden ruled at a preliminary hearing on Monday that there wasn’t enough evidence to proceed with said charges against Russell.

Russell will still face first-degree murder charges and mayhem charges in Flaget’s death, according to prosecutors. He was first arrested in September 2021.

Flaglet’s mutilated body was discovered inside his vehicle at his family property in Clark, Idaho on Sept. 10, 2021. He was completely nude from his waist down, apart from a pair of black socks, and wrapped in plastic, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com.  

“His body showed postmortem removal of the penis, scrotum, both testicles and flesh of the outer right thigh,” charging documents stated.

The next day, a search warrant was executed at Russell’s second-story apartment, where additional “tissue, consistent with the flesh” was allegedly found in and around the apartment — including in a bloody microwave — during authorities' search.

An autopsy revealed that Flaget died from blunt force trauma to the head and neck, according to the Spokane Medical Examiner’s Office.

The medical examiner also found that Russell had possibly microwaved portions of Flaget’s remains, charging documents stated. Forensic testing confirmed Flaget’s DNA was present in a bowl in Russell’s dwelling, but several body parts — including the elderly man’s penis, part of his scrotum, one testicle and the tissue from his right thigh — were never found by law enforcement.

“Evidence inside the apartment indicates portions of the flesh removed from David Flaget were placed in a glass bowl and microwaved,” the case’s probable cause statement affidavit alleged.

Officials also say Russell left a disturbing voice message on a relative’s phone on the same day Flaget’s remains were recovered.

“Sorry… I might be a little sensitive — some sort of food I ate,” Russell allegedly said in a voicemail sent to his uncle’s phone, charging documents alleged.

According to prosecutors, Russell had allegedly believed eating human flesh could “cure his brain.”

"It is my intention to prosecute Mr. Russell to the full extent of the law and to bring some level of justice for David Flaget's family," Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall told Oxygen.com in a statement in December.

Last year, Russell’s siblings — who had admitted him to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation — also disclosed to San Diego investigators that the Idaho man “wanted to cut chunks of his skin off with a knife” in order to “cure his brain.” 

Russell is being held at a Bonner County detention facility, according to online jail records obtained by Oxygen.com. His arraignment is set for June 21 in district court, according to court records. 

Sean Walsh, Russell's attorney, wasn't immediately available for comment when contacted by Oxygen.com on Friday.

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