A Boise man accused of beating a woman to death at a Main Street motel was arrested for a knife attack at another hotel in December but let out of jail on unsupervised probation against the victim's wishes.
Diane Marie Cain told the Idaho Statesman Tuesday that she was not surprised Thomas L. Herman, 55, is now accused of murder.
"He was trying to murder me. I miraculously got away from him and managed to run," said Cain, 46. "I was really upset when I found out they were letting him out."
Authorities have not released the name of the woman found dead in Herman's room at the Cabana Inn, 1600 Main St., but Cain said the woman is homeless and is known around town as Monique.
The Ada County Coroner's Office expects to release her identity Wednesday after they notify her family.
Described by authorities only as middle-aged and known to Herman, the woman died of blunt force trauma because of an assault, and her manner of death was homicide, the coroner said. It's the third murder case for Boise police this year two more than 2012.
Herman is in the Ada County Jail without bail and is expected to appear before a judge Wednesday. Police released few details about the homicide Tuesday and said the investigation is ongoing. Officers were called to the hotel about 7 a.m. for a report of a disturbance and suspicious death.
He faced prison time after his arrest last year, but a plea deal allowed him to plead guilty to misdemeanor disturbing the peace. He originally was charged with aggravated assault and use of a deadly weapon in commission of a felony.
An Ada County deputy prosecutor told 4th District Magistrate Judge John Hawley that Cain opposed the plea deal that spared Herman prison, but he recommended the judge approve it anyway. Hawley did so without question Jan. 10.
The prosecutor told Hawley he'd spoken with the victim Jan. 9 and informed her of the deal. Herman originally was charged with aggravated assault and use of a deadly weapon in commission of a crime, which are felonies, but the agreement allowed him to plead guilty to only disturbing the peace, which is a misdemeanor.
"She was opposed to it and wanted to see Mr. Herman in prison. I told her I'd express that to the court for her," the prosecutor said.
Hawley then asked Herman if he wished to speak, and Herman declined. The hearing lasted just a few minutes.
Hawley, who has served on the bench since 2007, declined to speak with an Idaho Statesman reporter Tuesday afternoon, saying through a court official that he was awaiting a jury verdict for a driving without privileges case.
Hawley's decision allowed Herman to leave jail, where he'd been since his arrest. The sentence called for Herman to spend 180 days in jail, but 160 days were suspended and he was credited for time already served and allowed work release. He was given 20 months to pay $1,100 in court fees.
Officers arrived at the Budget Inn in December to find Cain wrapped in only a blanket. She told them she'd been dating Herman for about two months and split her time between the motel and a homeless shelter, according to a hearing in December in which prosecutors established probable cause to charge Herman with a crime.
Cain told police she and Herman were drinking and "everything appeared to be OK, then all of a sudden, Mr. Herman grabbed a knife and threatened to kill her," prosecutors said. "He stated 'I'm going to end your life.'" Herman grabbed Cain by an arm and tried to hold her down, but she fled and asked hotel employees for help.
Officers found Herman at the motel, where he told them the woman had woken him up, and "he stated that he would kill (her)," calling the woman a profane name, according to the hearing. The officer asked Herman if he had tried to kill her, and Herman responded no, that he had threatened to.
Cain said court officials told her the case lacked evidence and was essentially her word against his, though she said she knows of another woman attacked in a motel by Herman last summer.
"He's known as a nut," Cain said.