By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
CHINOOK - The trial of a man accused of fatally shooting a Blaine County sheriff's deputy during a May 29 scuffle will not be held in Blaine County.
District Judge John McKeon agreed to the defense's motion for a change of venue during the arraignment Monday of Lawrence Dean Jackson Jr. Blaine County Attorney Yvonne Laird and state Assistant Attorney General Mark Murphy did not oppose the motion.
McKeon said he felt the motion was appropriate "based on the small population of Blaine County, the nature of the charges, and the extensive amount of publicity the case has received."
McKeon did not immediately make a decision on a new location. Both the defense and prosecution have to submit one recommendation and one alternate to McKeon by Oct. 8.
Jackson, 25, 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. Prosecutors allege that Jackson fatally shot Rutherford during a struggle in a field near Harlem, then shot Janis in the arm as the two exchanged gunfire.
Jackson pleaded not guilty to both charges during his arraignment Monday afternoon.
Two previous arraignments were postponed pending the results of a court-ordered psychological evaluation of Jackson. The defense requested the evaluation, citing concerns that Jackson might not be competent to stand trial.
Defense attorneys Bob Peterson and Ed Sheehy told McKeon on Monday that the evaluation indicates Jackson can be tried for the crimes.
"We have not received a copy of the written report," Sheehy said, "but we have spoken with (the psychologist) and he has said that Mr. Jackson is certainly competent to proceed and fit to assist in his own defense."
McKeon also gave the defense more money to prepare for a trial. Jackson's attorneys were both appointed by the court after Jackson was found to be indigent. Peterson requested $14,000 to hire a forensic expert and a litigation specialist. Laird said she did not object to the request.
Another hearing was set for next month. Sheehy asked that the hearing be closed to the public, but gave no explanation. McKeon said he would consider the request, and did not make a ruling Monday.
Monday's arraignment was attended by the families of both the victim and the accused.
Rutherford, a father of four, was killed responding to a domestic disturbance in Harlem May 29. The deputy, who was off-duty, was called at home about 10 p.m. to respond to the disturbance.
According to the charging document, Jackson shot Rutherford following a brief foot chase near a power substation just south of U.S. Highway 2. Jackson gained control of Rutherford's .40-caliber Glock service handgun during a struggle and shot him once in the chest, the document said.