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Arraignment delayed for defendant in deputy's homicide

The arraignment of a man accused of fatally shooting a Blaine County sheriff's deputy was postponed Tuesday so that a psychiatrist will have additional time to evaluate his mental health.

Havre attorney Bob Peterson also asked for mental health counseling for his client, Lawrence Dean Jackson Jr.

"As defense counsel, it's absolutely essential I have the ability to effectively communicate with my client in order to defend him," Peterson said, adding that a counselor may improve the lines of communication between Jackson and the defense team.

Jackson, 25, had been charged with one count of deliberate homicide in the shooting death of deputy Joshua Raven Chief Rutherford during a struggle May 28 and one count of attempted deliberate homicide in the wounding of deputy Loren Janis. Jackson is accused of shooting Janis during a standoff after Rutherford was shot.

Peterson is one of two court-appointed attorneys assigned to represent Jackson. Missoula defense attorney Ed Sheehy was not present during the hearing.

District Judge John McKeon postponed the arraignment until Sept. 22. McKeon granted a continuance after Peterson asked for additional time to acquire documents to assist in the evaluation of Jackson's mental health.

Peterson specifically asked for records from the Crossroads Correctional Center in Shelby, where Jackson served time for a 1999 assault. He also asked that the state provide counseling to Jackson, who remains jailed in Havre without bond.

McKeon will rule on whether Jackson is mentally competent to proceed with the arraignment after reviewing the evaluation and hearing arguments from both the prosecution and the defense.

Blaine County Attorney Yvonne Laird did not object to Peterson's request for a counselor, but said the state would not transport Jackson to attend counseling sessions.

"We don't have the resources to do that, and then there's the issue of security," she said.

Laird was joined at the prosecution table by state Assistant Attorney General Mark Murphy and Deputy Blaine County Attorney Tamara Barkus.

McKeon granted Peterson's request, with the conditions that the counselor travel to the Hill County Detention Center, and that the cost of the services not exceed $1,500.

According to the charging document, Jackson is accused of fatally shooting Rutherford with the deputy's gun as the two struggled in a field south of Harlem.

Rutherford and Janis had been called to respond to a domestic disturbance about 10:30 p.m. May 28. After a brief foot chase, Rutherford and Jackson became engaged in a struggle during which Jackson obtained control of the deputy's service handgun, the document said.


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