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25 to life for Bonners Ferry man in girlfriend's murder

July 22, 2022

Victor A. Claus
Victor A. Claus, 56, Bonners Ferry, was sentenced today to 25 years to life in prison for murder by Judge Scott Wayman in a Kootenai County courtroom, despite arguments by the defense that he deserved a new trial and assertions of innocence by Claus. He was convicted of first-degree murder May 4 in the death his girlfriend, Melyssa L. Schloe, 45, Sandpoint, shot in in the head April 13, 2021, as she was driving his truck north on Highway 95 near Athol.

Claus told police he and Schloe were arguing when she grabbed his handgun off the dashboard and shot herself.

"Melyssa shot herself, I'm innocent," Claus told the court. "If you'd told me years ago an innocent guy could be convicted of something he didn't do, I would say there was no way. I am living proof that this can happen."

Judge Wayman denied the defense motion for a new trial and rejected Claus's statement.

"The jury heard all of the evidence and decided that you were guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," Judge Wayman responded. "Your statement today disputes that, but it is the jury that makes those determinations of guilt of innocence. Those 12 jurors heard everything and decided you committed the offense you deny admitting. Your lawyer has pointed out that this doesn't make sense. Melyssa Schloe deserved to live her life. What makes sense is she deserved to live. A jury found you guilty of the offense. You deny it and that is your truth, but the jury heard the evidence and disagreed with your truth. They found you killed Melyssa Schloe. Alcohol was involved. Firearm was involved. Circumstance where an individual was very intoxicated and that was Victor Claus. That is why Melyssa Schloe was driving your truck that day."

Questions or Comments? Send us an email!

Mike Weland, Publisher

6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016

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