Huden enters 'not guilty' plea on first-degree murder charge

James 'Jim' Huden, the prime suspect in the 2003 murder of Russel A. Douglas of Langley, approaches his seat in an Island County courtroom during his arraignment Monday.
— image credit: Brian Kelly / The Record

James "Jim" Huden entered a plea of "not guilty" in the first-degree murder of Russel A. Douglas of Langley during a brief court appearance Monday in Island County Superior Court.

Huden, a fugitive from justice for more than seven years, was arrested in Veracruz, Mexico in June. His arraignment hearing came the same day as Island County authorities announced the arrest of an accomplice in the crime, Peggy Sue Thomas, a former girlfriend. Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks said Thomas helped lure Douglas to a remote property on Wahl Road in Freeland, where Huden allegedly shot Douglas on the day after Christmas in 2003.

Banks said Thomas, who was arrested on her half-million dollar houseboat called "Off the Hook" at Navajo Lake, N.M. on Saturday afternoon, has waived extradition and will return to Washington state within a few weeks.

Thomas has also been charged with first-degree murder.

Huden said nothing during his brief court appearance, and remained expressionless during his arraignment.

Banks asked the court to approve a DNA test on Huden, using a mouth swab, to get a sample that could be compared to DNA that was found on the murder weapon. Judge Alan Hancock agreed to the request.

The trial has been set for Aug. 30.

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