A Kalispell man accused of shooting his ex-girlfriend and her daughter to death on Christmas Day last year pleaded not guilty to amended charges on Thursday.
Tyler Michael Miller, also known as Tyler Michael Cheetham, 33, is charged with two counts of deliberate homicide after the shooting deaths of Jaimi Hurlbert, 35, and her daughter, Alyssa Burkett, 15.
Appearing before District Court Judge Stewart Stadler on March 31, Miller’s attorney, Noel Larrivee, entered not guilty pleas to two murder charges.
Larrivee also entered a general denial regarding the “aggravating circumstances” alleged by the prosecution, which could qualify Miller for harsher sentencing if found guilty.
County Attorney Ed Corrigan filed his intent to seek the death penalty in Miller’s case last month, the first time a Flathead County attorney has done so since 1983.
Larrivee also asked that the judge include in the latest charges Miller’s attorneys’ intent to rely on mental disease or defect as their defense. In Montana, a jury can find a “guilty but mentally ill” verdict, though the affirmative insanity defense was abolished in 1979.
Miller’s attorney also asked Stadler to consider issuing a gag order to keep the county attorney’s office and the victims’ family from speaking with the media about the case.
Any undue media publicity would “jeopardize the defendant’s right to a fair trial,” Larrivee said.
Stadler said Larrivee would have to file a motion before he would consider it.
In a March 9 filing, Corrigan laid out the alleged events that took place before, during and after the Dec. 25 murders. The affidavit portrays Miller as remorseless when asked about the shooting deaths, and alleges that Miller premeditated the murders.
According to the affidavit, Miller told sheriff’s detectives that he wished he felt bad about the murders, “but I am (expletive) happier than hell.”
Miller allegedly said he went to his mother’s house on Christmas to wait for Hurlbert, who was arriving to pick up their infant daughter. Investigators say he sneaked a .45-caliber pistol into the waistband of his pants before Hurlbert arrived.
When she got to the house, Miller allegedly said he confronted her in the garage. Court records state that witnesses heard Hurlbert say “oh my God” before the sound of gunshots.
Miller allegedly told detectives that he shot Burkett after she walked in during the confrontation.
Responding emergency personnel found Hurlbert dead at the scene; Burkett died later at Kalispell Regional Medical Center.
Miller remains in the Flathead County jail without the possibility of posting bail. His jury trial is scheduled for July 11.
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