Montana Supreme Court: Suspect Can be Forcibly Medicated

Lloyd Barrus is charged in connection with the March 2017 shooting death of a Broadwater County deputy

By Associated Press

HELENA — A man charged for his alleged role in the shooting death of a Montana sheriff’s deputy can be forcibly medicated after he was found mentally unfit to stand trial, the Montana Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

Lloyd Barrus, 63, is charged with accountability to deliberate homicide in the March 2017 shooting death of Broadwater County Deputy Mason Moore as the deputy pursued Barrus’ vehicle.

Barrus’ son, Marshall, is believed to have pulled the trigger while Lloyd Barrus drove. Marshall Barrus died in a shootout with law enforcement officers east of Missoula hours after the fatal shooting and following a pursuit on Interstate 90.

Wednesday’s 6-0 ruling upholds District Judge Kathy Seeley’s May 2019 ruling that Barrus could be given antipsychotic medications via injection, if he refused to take the drugs orally, in an effort to render him competent to stand trial and aid in his defense.

The justices found the state has an interest in gaining a conviction because a criminal commitment to the Montana State Hospital could last for years while a civil commitment could mean Barrus could be released in as little as three months. The justices also found the medication is not likely to cause significant side effects and alternative treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, were unlikely to achieve the same results.

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