After a long morning hearing closing statements, a Lewis and Clark County jury found a Helena man guilty Monday in the deliberate homicide of two Helena Valley residents last year.
Kyle Hamm is the second person convicted for the brutal slayings of Charla Rae Taylor, 64, and David Muncie Taylor, 61. The Taylors were found dead in their home on Cayuse Road north of Helena with multiple blunt and sharp force injuries.
The couple's son Kaleb Taylor pleaded guilty to two counts of deliberate homicide in July 2018 and was sentenced to life in the Montana State Prison in March 2019. A third defendant, Journey Ryder Wienke, is awaiting trial on two counts of deliberate homicide, tampering with evidence, burglary and theft.
Hamm previously told authorities the three suspects drove to the victims' home together on the night they died. He said he stayed in the truck with the door open as Kaleb Taylor and Wienke went inside.
Hamm was charged under a Montana law that says a person who is "legally accountable" for a robbery, assault with a weapon or other forcible felony that causes the death of another person is guilty of deliberate homicide.
The prosecution argued in its closing statement that it was unlikely that Hamm sat outside on that cold March night "smoking cigarettes and scrolling on his phone" without knowing what was going on in the house. Rather, the prosecution suggested Hamm was likely inside the house with Taylor and Wienke at some point.
This coupled with an "undeniable" knowledge of the characteristics of a knife used in the homicide, seemed to sway the jury.
The prosecution also suggested that Hamm was closer to Taylor than many others who testified that they heard Taylor say he planned to kill his parents. The state asked why the defense would rely on the testimony of Taylor, who was clearly covering for his friends.
The defense argued that Hamm's presence outside the house was not enough to convict him and placed the blame solely on Taylor and Wienke. It also stated that the text message history between the three men meant nothing in the context of the case, and argued against the motive being the men's lack of money.
Hamm was also convicted of tampering with the murder weapons after Taylor and Wienke left the home. The three men were seen on a car wash security video washing off a long bar-shaped object and getting rid of a knife shortly after the homicides. At one point Hamm allegedly kicked a knife used in the homicide into a steel grate at the car wash.
Hamm was also convicted of criminal possession of dangerous drugs.
The jury deliberated for a little over three hours before announcing the verdict Monday afternoon.
Court documents state the Taylors were killed after confronting their son about a burglary at their Lincoln Road business, Lincoln RV Park. Taylor and Hamm both admitted to investigators that they were involved in the burglary, saying they needed the money to pay a man who had threatened them with a gun after Kaleb Taylor bought drugs from him without paying.
Judge Mike Menahan ordered a pre-sentencing investigation and, at the recommendation of the prosecution, sentencing was tentatively scheduled for eight weeks from Monday, Oct. 7. Hamm is facing up to 235 years in the Montana State Prison.
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