HELENA — The Montana Supreme Court has granted a hearing request for a lobbyist and former firearms safety instructor who claims the judge was biased after he was sentenced to prison in October in the accidental shooting death of his hunting partner in Helena.
Acting Chief Justice James Shea asked former District Judge Ed McLean to preside over the proceedings to determine whether current District Judge Michael McMahon was impartial in his sentence on 62-year-old Gregg Trude, Independent Record reported Wednesday.
It is unclear when the hearing will take place.
Trude pleaded guilty in September to negligent homicide after acknowledging he placed a loaded rifle on the backseat of his truck before it accidentally discharged and killed Helena doctor Eugene “Buzz” Walton following a hunt in 2018, authorities said.
McMahon could not have been impartial because of his personal relationship with Walton, which he disclosed during the sentencing hearing, Trude’s new attorneys said. McMahon made multiple comments during the sentencing including comparing Walton to his own father who died years earlier, attorneys said.
Attorneys have asked that Trude be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea and be released from Montana State Prison. Trude has served about 14 weeks of his more than three-year sentence.
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