By Tim Leeds 

Sentencing set in shooting death at party

Plea agreement recommends 20 years in prison for deliberate homicide


Last updated 1/20/2023 at 11:41am

Xavier Alexander Clark of Havre is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in a plea agreement to a charge of deliberate homicide stemming from the shooting death of Dyllan Murray, 21, at a party on Saddle Butte Drive Oct. 17, 2021.

As per the plea agreement, Judge Kaydee Snipes Ruiz dropped two felony counts of attempted assault with a weapon, ordered a presentence investigation be prepared and set sentencing for March 20.

In the plea agreement, the prosecution recommends Clark, who was 23 at the time of the incident, be sentenced to 40 years in Montana State Prison with 20 suspended and be ineligible for parole and the participation in the supervised release program for 10 years.

According to a court document, a caller reported at about 1:57 a.m. Oct. 17, 2021, that a gun had been fired at the Saddle Butte Drive residence and a man had been shot and was unresponsive, not moving and bleeding from his head.

An officer arriving at the residence saw two men outside, with one of them Clark.

On entering the residence, the document said, the officer saw Murray deceased in the living room, and he saw an AR-15 rifle propped up against a couch several feet from Murray.

Clark initially told officers at the residence he did not know someone had chambered a round into his AR-15 and was pointing it at the door when someone came in, and he had tilted the gun forward, and it went off.

Later, during an interview at the Havre Police Department, Clark told investigating officers that a person at the residence had his AR-15 with him and asked Clark to go get his AR-15.

He said after he came back to the Saddle Butte Drive location, he cleared the rifle and took out the magazine, placing it in his back pocket, then later put the magazine back in. He said he was pointing it at the door when Murray walked in, and he set the rifle down. The rifle discharged when he set the butt against the ground harder than he should have and it went off, striking Murray.

Two witnesses who were at the party told the investigating officer that Clark had pointed the rifle directly at them, including at their chest. A witness said that, at one point, Clark had pulled the trigger while the rifle was pointed at one of the witnesses but it did not discharge a round.

Clark was charged Oct. 21, 2021, with felony negligent homicide with a dangerous weapon and two felony counts of assault with a weapon.

The charges were amended Feb. 24, 2022, to felony deliberate homicide, committing the offense of attempted assault with a weapon by attempting to cause fear of a serious injury and, in the course of committing that offense, caused the death of Dyllan Murray, and the two felony counts of attempted assault with a weapon against two others at the residence.


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