By Alan Sorensen
Jury selection began this morning in the murder trial of Jacob Gary Spang. Attorneys for both sides have said they expect the trial to last between eight and 10 days.
Spang, of Havre and Rocky Boy, is being tried for his alleged part in the murder of Kristi Walker, 30, and Kevin Caplette, 35, both of Havre. They were found shot to death at a home in the 1200 block of Sixth Street shortly before 1 p.m. on Sept. 16.
Spang is charged with two counts of deliberate homicide by application of the felony murder rule, two counts of intimidation by accountability, and one count each of tampering with evidence and car theft.
Spang's 16-year-old sister, Francine Spang, is charged with the same offenses and scheduled to go to trial in Havre on June 19.
Their co-defendant, Reid Danell, pleaded guilty in open court May 15 to first degree murder. He admitted shooting both victims, and with 12th Judicial District Court Judge John Warner's approval, told the victims' families that he was sorry for what he had done.
Spang and Danell were arrested at a Great Falls motel shortly after 10 p.m. the day after the bodies were found. Francine Spang turned herself over to Havre authorities later.
Hill County Attorney David Rice said the opening arguments could begin this afternoon or Tuesday morning. He said he expected the trial to last about a week.
"We thought our case would take between 3 to four days and theirs would take two to 2 days ," Rice said Friday. "We agreed that it would take as much as 7 to 8 days."
Rice predicted that the trial's closing arguments would conclude next Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning. How long it will take the jury to reach a verdict remains to be seen.
Spang, who turned 19 on March 31, was given the opportunity of being released on $25,000 bail on March 23, but never took advantage. He has remained jailed at Hill County Detention Center since shortly after his arrest.
Judge Warner had granted Spang's request for release on several conditions that he: post $25,000 bond, stay with family members Bighorn County, submit to electronic monitoring, pay for the electronic monitoring equipment, confine himself to the home from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., have no contact with the relatives of his co-defendants, refrain from the use of alcohol and drugs, maintain contact with his lawyer by telephone, and remain law-abiding.
Spang also would have be forbidden from returning to Hill County except for his court proceedings.
In Danell's case, Warner ordered a presentence investigation and set sentencing for 1:30 p.m. June 29. Warner told Danell that he was not bound by the plea agreement and that Danell could be sentenced to life in prison or from 10 to 100 years on each count and that Danell could be ordered to serve the sentences consecutively. The sentences also would carry fees and surcharges.
Danell is on the prosecution's list of witnesses for the Spangs' trials and is subject to subpoena to testify in both cases. Warner cautioned Danell that should he be called to testify, he would be subject to perjury charges if he were found to be untruthful in his testimony.
In exchange for Danell's plea of guilty to deliberate homicide, prosecutors agreed not to charge him in connection with an assault reported at Hill County Detention Center. On March 11, Danell allegedly borrowed a pencil from another inmate and then stabbed the inmate in the eye while the two were watching TV.
The victim survived.