Harlem man charged with murder in deputy's death


A Harlem man has been charged with murder in the Thursday shooting death of a Blaine County Sheriff's deputy.

Laurence Dean Jackson Jr. , 25, was charged Saturday with one count of deliberate homicide and one count of attempted deliberate homicide, Blaine County Sheriff Glenn Huestis said Sunday.

Jackson, who was convicted of aggravated assault in 1999, made an initial appearance before Blaine County Justice of the Peace Perry Miller, Huestis said. During the hearing, Miller appointed Jackson a public defender and denied bond, Heustis said.

Havre lawyer Jeremy Yellin was assigned to defend Jackson.

The charges stem from an incident Thursday night in Harlem in which Deputy Joshua Raven Chief Rutherford, 28, was slain and his partner, Deputy Loren Janis was wounded. Janis was taken to a Billings hospital for treatment and released.

Rutherford was fatally shot while assisting Janis on a domestic disturbance complaint at a mobile home on the southwest side of Harlem. Rutherford, who was off-duty Thursday night, was called from home about 10 p.m. to help Janis respond to the call, Huestis said.

The deputy was slain in a field along U.S. Highway 2 near McGuire's Motel and a power substation about 250 feet from the mobile home. He leaves behind a wife and four young sons.

Authorities on Friday cordoned off a section of the highway as investigators searched the field for evidence. The task continued on Sunday, with authorities burning a small section of thick brush to ease the search. Evidence was marked with orange flags.

Huestis released few details about the shooting during a brief press conference Friday morning. A second conference is planned for Tuesday.

A wake for Deputy Rutherford was held Sunday evening in Fort Belknap. Rutherford's body was taken from Chinook in a hearse escorted by nearly two dozen law enforcement vehicles. With flashing lights and wailing sirens, the quarter-mile long procession made the 25 mile journey to Fort Belknap.

The convoy was joined in Harlem by additional law enforcement officers, who waited for their fallen comrade just feet from where Rutherford was slain. Representatives from the Blaine County Sheriff's Office, the Chinook Police Department, Hill County Sheriff's Office, Havre Police Department, Fort Belknap and Harlem police departments, the Richland County Sheriff's Office, the Montana Highway Patrol, the U.S. Border Patrol and emergency services personnel participated in the convoy.

Huestis and Rutherford's family carried the casket in silence from the hearse into the the Red Whip Recreation Center where the wake was held. Hundreds turned out to honor the fallen lawman, including dozens of fellow officers in uniform. Many wore black over their badges to signal their mourning.

The slain deputy lay in an open casket, accompanied by a folded American flag, a Denver Broncos cap and Native American headdress. He was surrounded by quilts, flowers and pictures of him with his family. Many left the wake in tears.

Rutherford graduated from Harlem High School in 1993, excelling academically and earning letters in football and wrestling. After graduation he worked as a jailer for the Hill County Detention Center before working for the Harlem Police Department. He rose through the ranks to become Harlem Chief of Police in just three months.

Rutherford became a Blaine County Sheriff's deputy in February of 2000. He was a certified instructor at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy in Helena, teaching a course on defensive tactics.

The murder has shocked the small communities of Chinook and Harlem.

"I used to feel secure," said one mourner. "Now some of that has been taken away"


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