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050819 hardy murder trial file

Caressa Hardy, also identified in court records as Glenn Dibley, watches the jury leave a Missoula County District Courtroom during a break last week in the trial that alleges Hardy killed two men with whom Hardy shared a home outside Frenchtown in 2013. On the right is a member of Hardy's defense team.

On July 31, 2017, two FBI agents disguised as construction workers made their way up Caressa Hardy's driveway on Pond Road, a dead-end street into the hills north of Frenchtown. 

Hardy had been under investigation for nearly a year after Karen Hardy walked into an eastern Montana police department and said she was present when Hardy fatally shot two men three years earlier. Monte Shaid, a supervisory special agent with the FBI, and the other agent had devised the construction worker ruse for fear Hardy might become violent at the sight of handcuffs.

Shaid testified on Monday in the second week of trial for Hardy, who is facing two counts of deliberate homicide for the deaths of Thomas Korjack and Robert Orozco. Shaid told the court Hardy was "very defensive" when he and the other agent said they were working on the road nearby. 

Once within distance, Shaid grabbed one of Hardy's arms and the other agent grabbed the other as Hardy was reaching for his pockets, Shaid said. Hardy screamed "no," and resisted until a team of law enforcement officers started down the driveway. In Hardy's pocket, they found a loaded Glock 9 mm  handgun, Shaid said.

Witnesses last week led the jurors through the timeline of the alleged murders: how Hardy and his then-partner Karen Hardy met up with and became something of a non-traditional family with Orozco, with whom Karen had fallen in love, and Korjack, a wealthy man who had purchased the home in Frenchtown. Karen Hardy said Hardy killed Korjack and Orozco when Korjack appeared to be cutting Hardy off financially.

While human remains were recovered from a fire pit on Hardy's property, forensics have been unable to extract any DNA definitively identifying them as the alleged victims.

Monday's testimony laid the foundation for the two other charges Hardy faces, solicitation for murder, for allegedly seeking inmates who would kill Karen Hardy. 

Hardy, once known as Glenn Dibley, was transitioning to a woman when he was arrested and held in solitary confinement for several weeks (during trial, attorneys and witnesses have used the pronouns "he" and "him" in referring to Hardy). Ultimately, he was placed in the men's side of the Missoula County Detention Center, where his first cellmate was Anton Orth.

Orth testified Monday that Hardy began talking about his case within days of moving into their cell. At first, Orth said he tried to convince Hardy to confess to authorities, but Hardy maintained his innocence. 

Orth said other inmates would constantly yell at Hardy through the jail halls: "Tell us where the bodies are!"

Within a month or so of sharing a cell, Orth had begun taking notes on his conversations with Hardy and what he found in Hardy's paperwork in his cell. Orth said he heard Hardy offer another inmate $10,000 to "take out" Karen Hardy, with another $10,000 coming after. He called upon the Missoula County Sheriff's Office to share what he found.

"He was so mad he was spitting," Orth said Monday. "By this time, I knew I was in the same cell with an animal," Orth said.

At the time, Orth was incarcerated on several felonies for allegedly wrecking his car, with his children in it, at 90 mph while he had methamphetamine in his system. He contended that he did not get a lighter sentence in exchange for his information. But Britt Cotter, Hardy's defense attorney, emphasized the fact that Orth is now out on community supervision and again has custody of his children. 

Despite his own initiative in that jail cell during the time they were cellmates, Orth expressed some fear that someone might come after him, as Hardy had allegedly asked others to do to Karen Hardy. He said Monday he did so anyway, "because there's people who don't know where their family members are."

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Bryan Palmer, another former cellmate of Hardy's, testified from a detention facility in Idaho on Monday that Hardy had offered him approximately $10,000 to kill Karen Hardy.

"He wanted her shot in the head is all I remember him saying," Palmer said. "He wanted her eliminated in a pretty gruesome way, in a way that she wasn't going to be able to talk or testify, I believe, if she was to live."

They had only been cellmates for one or two days when Hardy made the proposition, Palmer said. He wrote to the county attorney's office, offering the information and asking for a deal. Palmer never got a response, he testified Monday, but said he gave authorities the information anyway to help Karen Hardy.

"I believed this woman's life was in danger," he said. "In my mind, I just wanted protection for her in case this was a situation."

When she took the stand last week, Karen Hardy appeared too frightened to even look at Hardy. She said she was compelled to report the alleged killings in 2016 because she believed she saw Hardy following her around Sidney, Montana, and believed she was going to be killed. She now lives somewhere else, a location not disclosed by authorities. 

Also not mentioned in court is what compelled Shaid and the FBI team with the Missoula County Sheriff's Office to arrest Hardy when they did. 

Hardy's trial, if according to plan, should wrap up at the end of this week. His defense team contends Korjack and Orozco willingly disappeared off the map; Korjack had previously tried escaping the country after a stint of tax evasion and Orozco had several thousand dollars of unpaid child support he had avoided for many years prior to their disappearance in March 2013.

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