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Lloyd Barrus glances at Assistant Attorney General Mary Cochenour

Lloyd Barrus glances at assistant attorney general Mary Cochenour Wednesday at the Lewis and Clark County Courthouse. The hearing will determine if Barrus can be forcibly medicated to stand trial for the killing of deputy Mason Moore in May 2017.

A forensic psychiatrist who has worked with the man charged in the May 2017 shooting death of a Montana sheriff's deputy told the court he should be medicated against his will in an effort to make him fit to stand trial. 

No ruling was made on the second day of Lloyd Barrus' Sell Hearing, a legal procedure that allows a court to determine if a defendant can be forcibly medicated to restore mental competency. The hearing started Wednesday and continued Thursday in Lewis and Clark County District Court. 

Lloyd Barrus was involved in a high-speed chase that spanned multiple counties, with his son Marshall firing on police. The chase ended in Granite County with the arrest of Barrus and the death of his son. 

His son allegedly killed Broadwater County deputy Mason Moore near Three Forks during the chase. 

Barrus is charged with one count of accountability to deliberate homicide, two counts of accountability to attempted deliberate homicide, assault on a peace officer and unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He is not currently considered competent to stand trial for the crimes.

Barrus is refusing to take anti-psychotic drugs to treat his delusional disorder, which manifests in Barrus’ beliefs that he is either Jesus Christ or Michael the Archangel, according to testimony from Dr. Virginia Hill, the head psychiatrist at the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs.

After Barrus was arrested and later hospitalized in California in 2000 for his role in a shootout and standoff with California law enforcement, he was placed on an anti-psychotic drug regimen that appeared to seriously reduce what psychiatrists are calling delusions.

The state is trying to persuade Judge Kathy Seeley to allow Barrus to be forcibly medicated so he can stand trial.

A Sell Hearing seeks to determine whether forcible medication is a compelling state interest, whether the involuntary medication would return the defendant to competency, whether the same result can be reached in a less intrusive way, and whether the treatment is in the defendant's best interest. 

Thursday’s testimony from one of the state's witnesses, Dr. Alan Newman, a forensic psychiatrist from California, illustrated how anti-psychotic medication could return Barrus to a state of competency.

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Newman’s testimony covered Barrus’ medication history while at a California mental hospital and his positive response to previous medication regimens. Newman said he agreed with Dr. Hill’s diagnosis of delusional disorder and detailed Barrus’ path through the California hospital system as he responded, in Newman’s opinion, positively to medication.

Newman said Barrus had said he would fight being medicated in California, but still took the medications prescribed to him. Newman referenced thousands of pages of reports from the Atascadero State Hospital in California while going through Barrus’ medical history with anti-psychotics.

Newman said Hill’s previous testimony about medicating Barrus exhibited a “conservative” approach to the problem, but was one that made sense for the risks.

Testimony by Newman also dealt with academic articles about delusional disorder in an attempt to persuade the court of the need for medication.

The hearing will continue Friday.

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Reporter at the Helena Independent Record.

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