Trial Begins for Kalispell Man Accused of Deliberate Homicide

Attorney representing Leigh Garrett Medina, 45, tells jurors his client acted in self-defense when he beat a man to death with a brick

By Maggie Dresser
Leigh Garrett Medina appears in Flathead County District Court on Oct. 18, 2021. Medina is accused of beating Paul David Kellenberger to death with a cement brick on July 15, 2019. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

A 45-year-old Kalispell man accused of beating 67-year-old Paul David Kellenberger to death with a cement brick at a home in Kalispell on July 15, 2019 is now standing trial in Flathead County District Court.

On Oct. 18, a 14-person jury heard opening statements in the case against Leigh Garrett Medina, who has pleaded not guilty to a single felony count of deliberate homicide. Judge Dan Wilson is presiding over the trial.

After the jury was selected and seated, with 12 jurors and two alternates, Deputy Flathead County Attorney Andrew Clegg and defense attorney Jay Reno each delivered opening statements. 

According to Clegg, the victim suffered blunt force trauma comparable to a car crash and Medina’s pants were covered in the victim’s blood, which he attempted to clean off while authorities interviewed him. One witness told authorities he was in the room when Medina attacked Kellenberger, Clegg told jurors, even after the witness told him to stop. 

Reno said his client acted in self-defense and noted that another witness attempted to take money out of the victim’s wallet after the homicide. 

Clegg said Medina had been at Kellenberger’s home on Lenwood Lane in Kalispell; when law enforcement arrived following a neighbor’s call to 911, they found Kellenberger dead. Before law enforcement arrived, Medina left the scene and allegedly told a witness, “don’t say anything,” according to Clegg.

“Kellenberger was literally found with his head caved in in his own kitchen,” the prosecutor told jurors. 

Authorities searched for Medina’s vehicle, tracing it to his ex-girlfriend’s home in Kalispell, according to the prosecution’s timeline of events. A SWAT Team arrived and arrested Medina, whose ex-girlfriend told officers the defendant turned up at the house shortly after the time of the homicide wearing a white undershirt and carrying a black suitcase.  

She later opened the suitcase where she found Medina’s shirt covered in blood and she called 911, according to prosecutors. 

When law enforcement interviewed Medina, he spoke about a friend who let him pitch a tent in his yard — a friend they later learned was Kellenberger. 

During the same interview, a detective told Medina, “It looks like you have brain matter on your pants.” After authorities left the room, Medina attempted to clean the blood off of his legs, Clegg said. 

The prosecutor said another witness will testify that he showed up at Kellenberger’s home to find Medina and the victim arguing. 

“I expect (the witness) will tell you that when he came back down the hallway he observed the defendant with a landscaping brick held over his head bashing over Kellenberger’s head,” Clegg said. 

The witness yelled, “Stop, you’re going to kill him,” Clegg said. 

But Medina’s defense attorney, Reno, countered that his client acted in self-defense. Further, he told jurors he expects witnesses will testify that “drugs were involved that day.”

Reno said it was Kellenberger who initiated threats against Medina in the house. 

“While this was happening, (Kellenberger’s) friend was behind the defendant making him feel blocked in,” Reno said. “This was a life or death moment for my client and Medina justifiably defended himself.” 

Reno also mentioned that another witness was “robbing the corpse of Kellenberger” following the homicide and did not report the crime right away. 

Testimony will continue Tuesday morning. 

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