Trial Begins for Man Accused of Killing Wife

Prosecutors argue Bradley Jay Hillious strangled his wife; Flathead County District Court trial slated to span three weeks

By Maggie Dresser
Bradley Jay Hillious appears via video in Flathead County Justice Court in Kalispell on Dec. 28, 2020. The Kalispell man has been charged with killing his wife, Amanda Hillious. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

A Kalispell man accused of killing his wife after first claiming that she fell down a flight of stairs on Dec. 15, 2020 is now standing trial in Flathead County District Court, with attorneys on both sides wrapping up a lengthy jury selection process on Jan. 3.

The 14-member jury panel, which includes two alternates, heard opening statements from prosecutors in the case against Bradley Jay Hillious, who has pleaded not guilty to a single felony count of deliberate homicide. Judge Robert Allison is presiding over the trial.

Deputy Flathead County Attorney John Donovan said the critical injuries that Hillious’ late wife, Amanda Hillious, suffered on Dec. 15, 2020 did not match up with the accidental trauma described by Bradley Hillious and his father, Scott Hillious, who both reported that she fell down a flight of stairs.

When law enforcement arrived at the Hillious home and began rendering aid, they found her unresponsive with a laceration on her right ear and temple area, but no evidence of the lethal degree of blunt-force trauma the defendant says occurred.

“They say they don’t believe that the injuries this woman sustained squares up with that of a woman falling down the stairs,” Donovan said. “It appears (to be) a different mechanism.”

According to Donovan, a neuropathologist said in a sworn affidavit that strangulation was the cause of the death. Amanda Hilliou died at the hospital four days after the Dec. 15 incident. An autopsy later determined that she died of “blunt force injuries associated with neck compression.”

“This injury that killed Amanda wasn’t a result of blunt force trauma to the head,” Donovan said. “The oxygenated blood was cut off to Amanda’s brain and that’s what killed her.”

Donovan also referenced an incident in April 2020 when 911 dispatchers received a hang-up call from Amanda, who the prosecutor speculated had likely called to report she was being intimidated by her husband.

During the investigation, authorities interviewed Amanda’s eldest son from a previous relationship, and who was 10 years old at the time of the incident.

According to Donovan, the boy told authorities that he’d observed a verbal altercation between his mother and the defendant that escalated, becoming physical when Bradley hit her. He went to his room when he heard his mother walking up the stairs and then heard a loud bang, Donovan said.

The couples’ 6-year-old son also provided information to investigators, saying he heard his mother tell the defendant to stop and observed an injury to her ear, which was bleeding.

Bradley Hillious later admitted on the day of his arrest that he had been having an affair and he and Amanda had a physical altercation on the morning that she suffered the fatal injuries.

On Dec. 24, 2020, Scott Hillious reportedly committed suicide after detectives requested a follow-up interview from both Scott and Bradley.

Hillious reported the death to authorities and said his father approached him and said, “I can’t do this anymore. I’m not going to jail. I love you.” Bradley Hillious was arrested later that day.

Opening statements from the defense will commence on Tuesday, Jan. 4, with Livingston defense attorney Jami Rebsom representing Hillious.