News & Features

Coram Man Says He Was Sexually Assaulted Before Fatal Shooting

Martin Chandler pleaded guilty to mitigated deliberate homicide on Aug. 8

A Coram man accused of murder testified in court that he shot and killed another man because he had been sexually assaulted after overdosing on methamphetamine.

Martin Chandler, 20, pleaded guilty to felony mitigated deliberate homicide in Flathead County District Court on Aug. 8, six months after he shot and killed 54-year-old William Melton in Coram.

According to charging documents, Chandler shot Melton in the chest during an argument about methamphetamine on the night of Feb. 14.

But during the change of plea hearing, a different picture of the events from that night emerged. Chandler testified on the stand that he would often provide Pseudoephedrine to Melton who would use it to make methamphetamine. Chandler said on at least one occasion, Melton purposely made an extra potent dose of methamphetamine that left him unconscious. Chandler testified that he later learned one or more people might have sexually assaulted him when he was passed out.

“It was your belief that they did sexual things to you when you were knocked out,” defense attorney Sean Hinchey asked.

“Yes,” Chandler responded.

Chandler was arrested soon after the shooting.

Chandler was initially charged with felony deliberate homicide. As part of a plea agreement, the charge was amended to felony mitigated deliberate homicide. Someone commits mitigated deliberate homicide when they knowingly murder someone “but does so under the influence of extreme mental or emotional stress for which there is reasonable explanation or excuse.”

Chandler will be sentenced in September.

If you enjoy stories like this one, please consider joining the Flathead Beacon Editor’s Club. For as little as $5 per month, Editor’s Club members support independent local journalism and earn a pipeline to Beacon journalists. Members also gain access to www.beaconeditorsclub.com, where they will find exclusive content like deep dives into our biggest stories and a behind-the-scenes look at our newsroom.