The state of Montana is no longer seeking the death penalty for Lloyd Barrus, the man charged with accessory to deliberate homicide of Broadwater County Sheriff's Deputy Mason Moore in 2017.
"The withdrawal comes after extensive analysis of the Defendant's history of mental health, including the fact that he is currently unfit to proceed due to his mental illness," Broadwater County Attorney Cory Swanson wrote in court filings Friday.
During a June status hearing, lawyers from the state attorney general’s office assisting Swanson agreed with the assessment made by the Montana State Hospital, which deemed Lloyd Barrus unable to stand trial due to years of mental health issues stretching back to 2000.
Swanson's notice on Friday continues to say that the prosecution is aware that because Lloyd Barrus's mental health is a potentially "sufficiently mitigating circumstance" the court could impose a sentence other than death.
The notice is not a response to a motion put forth by Lloyd Barrus' lawyers challenging "the Constitutionality of the death penalty," which Swanson views as "without merit."
Swanson believes that Lloyd Barrus will be found mentally fit to proceed if the proposed mental health treatment plan he is under is enforced, the filing says. That includes a court order forcing him to take his medication if he refuses.
"The State fully expects to try this case before a jury, and believes the court will have the opportunity to hold the Defendant accountable through a just sentence, which includes up to imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole," the notice concludes.
Lloyd Barrus faces a charge of accountability for deliberate homicide in connection with Moore’s death. He also faces two counts of accountability for attempted deliberate homicide involving two Butte-Silver Bow police officers and five counts of attempted deliberate homicide stemming from allegations that he and his son, Marshall Barrus, fired at law enforcement during a multi-county vehicle pursuit. All of the charges against him are punishable by life in prison, or not less than 10 or more than 100 years in Montana State Prison.
Prosecutors believe Marshall Barrus killed Moore. He was later shot and killed by law enforcement after the pursuit ended near Missoula.
Moore, who was a husband and father of three, was shot and killed early on the morning of May 16, 2017 near Three Forks.
Officials believe Lloyd and Marshall Barrus went out that night intentionally seeking a gunfight with law enforcement in what they called a "suicide mission." At around 2 a.m., Moore attempted to stop the pair as they sped north on Highway 287 at more than 100 miles per hour and a pursuit ensued. About six minutes into the pursuit, the deputy started taking gunfire from Barrus' vehicle.