The Bonneville County Prosecutor’s Office has filed a notice to seek the death penalty in the case against Brian Leigh Dripps.
Dripps, 54, has been charged with first-degree murder and rape for the 1996 killing of Angie Dodge. He was arrested in May after the Idaho Falls Police Department determined his DNA matched multiple samples left at Dodge’s home where she was killed.
Dripps admitted to committing both the rape and the murder alone when interrogated by police. He claimed he only intended to rape Dodge and that he thought she was alive when he left her residence.
The notice cites Idaho Code 19-2515(9), which lists out the requirements for prosecutor’s to seek the death penalty.
“(e) The murder was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel, manifesting exceptional depravity.
(f) By the murder, or circumstances surrounding its commission, the defendant exhibited utter disregard for human life.
(g) The murder was committed in the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate, arson, rape, robbery, burglary, kidnapping or mayhem and the defendant killed, intended a killing, or acted with reckless indifference to human life.”
Dripps said he was aware another man was in prison for the crime. Christopher Tapp was convicted for the murder and spent 19 years in prison before he was released in 2017 after Judges for Justice and Bonneville County Public Defender John Thomas challenged the validity of his confession. Tapp was exonerated in July after Dripps’ arrest.
Bonneville County Prosecutor Daniel Clark said the notice was filed to preserve the State’s right to recommend the death penalty at sentencing. A jury would make the final decision on whether the penalty should be imposed.
“Given the facts, it seems appropriate upon a conviction in this case for the death penalty to be something for the jury to consider at the end of a trial,” Clark said.
In 2018, Clark filed an intent to seek the death penalty against Jameion Hernandez. At the time Clark said the notice was filed to preserve the State’s right to pursue the death penalty. Clark ended up not requesting the death penalty in that case.
In 1998, then Bonneville County Prosecutor Kipp Manwaring sought the death penalty against Tapp. District Judge Ted Wood decided against a death penalty at sentencing.