ByPatrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty for a man accused of slaying a Blaine County sheriff's deputy during a struggle earlier this year, according to a document filed in court.
Lawrence Dean Jackson Jr. is charged with one count of deliberate homicide in the death of deputy Joshua Rutherford, and one count of attempted deliberate homicide in the shooting of deputy Loren Janis.
Montana law specifies a number of aggravating factors for which a person may be executed by the state. One of those is when a defendant is convicted of deliberate homicide "and the victim was a peace officer killed while performing the officer's duty."
In Montana, a judge decides whether to impose a death sentence after the jury determines whether aggravating factors exist to warrant the death penalty.
Montana's only method of execution is lethal injection.
Rutherford and Janis were shot May 29 near Harlem while the two were responding to a domestic dispute. According to the charging document, Jackson shot Rutherford once in the chest after wresting the deputy's service weapon away from him, then shot Janis in the arm.
Jackson surrendered to Janis and another man, the charging document said.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is being held without bond in the Hill County Detention Center.
Blaine County Attorney Yvonne Laird and co-counsel Carlo Canty could not be reached for comment. Jackson's attorneys, Robert Peterson and Ed Sheehy, did not return phone calls.
Laird filed the notice of intent to seek penalty of death on Friday in District Court in Chinook.
Friday also marked the last day for attorneys to submit recommendations or the trial's change of venue. The state requested the trial be moved to Miles City or Deer Lodge, while the defense has requested Missoula or Anaconda. The arguments cite courtroom availibility, security, available housing for witnesses, and the amount of pretrial publicity about the case in each community.
Attorneys for both Jackson and the state requested a venue change. The two parties filed a joint motion Sept. 17 that said the move was warranted considering the small population of Blaine County, the nature of the charges, and the extensive publicity given the case.
"All parties believe venue must be changed to a county sufficiently distant from Blaine County to ensure a fair and impartial trial for both Plaintiff and Defendant," the motion said.
The document said the two parties were unable to agree on a new location, and asked District Judge John McKeon to designate one based on their recommendations.
McKeon granted the request for a change of venue but has not yet ruled on where the trial will be held.