News & Features

Judge Dismisses 2001 Murder Charge, Not Enough Evidence

Man spent 15 years in prison for a murder he said he didn't commit

GREAT FALLS — A Montana judge has dismissed a deliberate homicide charge against a man who spent 15 years in prison for a murder he said he didn’t commit.

The Great Falls Tribune reports the charge against 38-year-old Richard Burkhart was dismissed last week after Cascade County prosecutors said they did not have enough evidence to convict Burkhart of killing William Ledeau in 2001.

A judge vacated Burkhart’s conviction in November 2016 and ordered a new trial. Prosecutors had re-filed the charge before moving to dismiss.

The Montana Innocence Project found evidence that someone in juvenile detention reported his cellmate confessed to killing Ledeau while a witness who testified against Burkhart admitted lying on the stand.

MIP legal director Larry Mansch says Burkhart could have a parole hearing as early as next month.

Cascade County is still investigating the murder.