Helena, MT – Prosecutors announced they will not seek the death penalty in the case of a man charged with being the accessory to the murder Broadwater County Deputy Mason Moore in May of 2017.
Deputy Moore was murdered by Marshall Barrus on May 16, 2017, during a pursuit near Three Forks, KTVQ reported. His father, Lloyd Barrus, was driving the vehicle during the chase.
The incident occurred shortly before 3 a.m. when Deputy Moore initiated pursuit of a white SUV that wouldn’t stop. Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin said that dispatchers lost contact with Deputy Moore.
A Gallatin deputy was sent to his last known location to check on him, and found Deputy Moore’s body. He reviewed Deputy Moore’s dash camera video and was able to identify the SUV as a 1998 Chevrolet Suburban with California plates, and issued an alert for the vehicle.
Butte-Silver Bow County Sheriff Ed Lester said that Butte-Silver Bow County deputies spotted the SUV westbound on I-90 near the Continental Drive interchange about 3:27 a.m. They tried to stop the SUV but the driver refused, and a pursuit was initiated.
At times, the pursuit reached speeds of over 100 miles per hour. Butte-Silver Bow County deputies continued to pursue the vehicle westbound on I-90 through Deer Lodge County and Powell County, and into Granite County.
The Montana Highway Patrol deployed spike strips in Powell County at mile marker 162, but the SUV refused to stop, even with punctured tires.
The SUV continued west until it reached the Rock Creek area and stopped. The passenger began firing out of the rear window with at least one semiautomatic rifle at deputies.
Three Butte-Silver Bow deputies’ cruisers were hit by gunfire, and two of them seriously enough to be disabled. Other agencies’ vehicles were also reported to have been struck by gunfire.
Marshall Barrus, 39, was fatally shot by police during the gunfight.
He had previous a criminal history in Alaska and Montana, including a conviction for felony criminal mischief and a pending charge of felony burglary, both in Gallatin County, where he lived. He also had previous DUI convictions.
His father, who led the 150-mile chase, was charged with deliberate homicide by accountability, two counts of attempted deliberate homicide, assault on a peace officer, and unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, according to KTVQ. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
In June, Judge Kathy Seeley found Lloyd Barrus unfit to stand trial for the murder of Deputy Moore, and ordered him committed to the Montana State Hospital. The hospital was ordered to come up with a treatment plan that would allow the case against the deputy’s killer to go forward, KBZK reported.
Prosecutors filed documents with the court on June 19 that included an extensive analysis of Lloyd Barrus’ history of mental health problems.
An examination found that Barrus suffered from several disorders including persecutory-type delusional disorder, mixed personality disorder, and alcohol and marijuana use problems of unknown severity, according to an order of commitment in court records, KBZK reported.
Court records also said that Barrus had refused to take the medication to treat his disorders, and without it, he would remain unfit to stand trial.
The state in a recent filing with the court, however, said that it was believed that treatment of Barrus’ disorders would make him able to stand trial before a jury in the future, KZBK reported.
The prosecutors also told the court that their decision not to seek the death penalty was not in response to the motion filed by Barrus’ attorney challenging the constitutionality of the death penalty, according to KZBK.