The suspect in a Kalispell Christmas day shooting was formally charged with two counts of deliberate homicide during his initial appearance Monday in Flathead County District Court.
Tyler Michael Miller, 34, is charged with the shooting deaths of Jaimi Lynn Hurlbert, 35, and her daughter, Alyssa Burkett, 15.
Miller legally changed his name from Tyler Michael Cheetham in May of 2009.
Appearing before District Court Judge Stewart Stadler in what appeared to be a bulletproof vest under his jail-issued shirt, Miller actively surveyed the crowd gathered in the gallery behind him. It included several law enforcement officers, court employees, media and family of the victims.
Flathead Deputy County Attorney Alison Howard told Stadler that Miller confessed to premeditating the murder, and that the state could seek the death penalty.
“I don’t object,” Miller said at that point.
According to court documents, 911 dispatch received a call on Dec. 25 at 2:57 p.m. from Miller’s mother, Cindy Regnier, reporting that her son had just shot Hurlbert, his ex-girlfriend, and Burkett. He used a .45 caliber firearm.
Flathead County Sheriff Mike Meehan said police arrived at the home to find Hurlbert dead from a gunshot and Burkett shot but still alive.
Meehan said Burkett was taken to Kalispell Regional Medical Center where she later died.
Miller fled the scene in Hurlbert’s car, abandoned it and then allegedly stole another one, Meehan said. He abandoned that one as well and fled on foot, but authorities tracked him through the snow to a vacant trailer where he was arrested without incident.
Once taken into custody at about 4:30 p.m., according to court records, Miller waived his rights and “confessed to killing both Hurlbert and (Burkett). Miller stated he had planned to kill Hurlbert and went to his mother’s house with that intention.”
Previous news reports stated that Kalispell police responded to an incident at the Scoreboard Pub and Casino in Kalispell involving Miller and the homicide victims on Christmas Eve. Authorities impounded Miller’s vehicle but weren’t able to locate him.
Miller’s adult criminal record in Flathead County dates back to 1994, when he was arrested for felony theft and criminal possession of dangerous drugs. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison with five suspended.
Another conviction followed in 1998, when he pleaded guilty to criminal mischief after a group of men bashed in the windshield of a woman’s car in a Kalispell casino parking lot.
Miller was discharged from prison to a Butte pre-release center in 2000, and was eventually released back to Kalispell in 2001.
In 2003, a Flathead District Court judge concluded that Miller had once again violated the terms of his probation and was handed a five-year prison sentence with the expectation that he would eventually end up at a pre-release center. A Butte District Court judge sentenced Miller to a year in prison for an escape charge later that same year.
Court records also show that Miller’s problems with the law began before his 18th birthday. According to a sentencing report handed down from District Court Judge Ted O. Lympus in June of 1995, Miller had accumulated a significant record before legally becoming an adult.
This record included multiple thefts, assault and resisting arrest, among other charges, beginning in 1992.
Along with his stints in prison, Miller also attempted the state boot camp program twice, failing both times.
Miller’s bond was initially set at $1 million, which he declared he wouldn’t pay even if he could afford it. Stadler then removed the possibility of bail. Miller requested the services of a public defender.
Miller remains jailed at the Flathead County Detention Center. His arraignment is scheduled for Jan. 13 at 9 a.m.
This is the second double homicide in Kalispell this year. Justin Calbick was accused of killing his father and brother in January.
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