Tim Leeds Havre Daily News email@example.com
After a full day of jury selection in state District Court in Havre Monday, the murder trial of Anthony Roy St. Dennis of Missoula, 19, began this morning with opening arguments presented to the jury. St. Dennis is charged with deliberate homicide or accountability for deliberate homicide in the December 2007 beating death of Forrest Clayton Salcido in Missoula. The trial was first moved from Missoula to Great Falls, then moved again to the state District Court in Havre. Missoula District Judge John Larson, presiding at the trial, ruled that St. Dennis could not receive a fair trial in Missoula due to news coverage of the case. Dustin Strahan, also charged with the death of Salcido, is scheduled for trial in Great Falls in March. Strahan is expected to testify during St. Dennis’ trial, with his testimony precluded from being used against him in his own trial. Close to 150 of the 180 potential jurors in the pool drawn by the Hill County Clerk of Court’s office sat through a full day of jury selection Monday. After 12 jurors and three alternates were selected, Larson read the initial jury instructions and recessed until this morning, when the opening arguments were scheduled to begin. According to a court document, St. Dennis and Strahan were charged after investigating officers connected them to the death of Salcido, a homeless man in Missoula, who died after a brutal stomping attack at the California Street pedestrian bridge across the Clark Fork River. In an interview with Irina Cates of KPAX television in Missoula, broadcast in December 2007, family members described victim Salcido, a former Boy Scout Eagle Scout and U.S. Navy veteran born in 1951, as a man who chose to quit his job and begin living on the streets because he wanted to “get away from the rat race, he wanted away from the stress, he wanted away from the violence and all of those things.” Salcido was found dead at the foot bridge in Missoula on Dec. 6, 2007. According to a court document, Strahan’s mother had called the police the morning of Dec. 6, 2007, to report that Strahan and St. Dennis had tried to stop a rape, and that morning she and her son had heard that the man had been found dead. When initially interviewed by the police, Strahan also said he and St. Dennis had assaulted the man after trying to stop him from raping a woman while underneath the foot bridge. Strahan later admitted that he had made up that story and that the attack was unprovoked, the document said. He told officers that both he and St. Dennis had been drinking that night. After St. Dennis was arrested and declined to talk to investigating officers without an attorney present, he made a telephone call after being booked into the detention center, the document said. During the call St. Dennis made several admissions that he had killed the man at the bridge, the document said. The trial is expected to last between five to seven days.