A Flathead County District Court judge denied a bail reduction motion for Del Orrin Crawford, a 40-year-old Kila man accused of shooting two Hungry Horse residents outside a Martin City bar, killing a woman and seriously injuring her husband in August.
Judge Dan Wilson at the Oct. 19 bail hearing kept the amount at $750,000 after the defendant’s attorney filed a motion to reduce the bail to around $100,000.
Crawford pleaded not guilty to felony charges of deliberate homicide, attempted deliberate homicide and evidence tampering after prosecutors allege he shot Hungry Horse residents Whisper Dawn Mari Sellars, 28, who died on the scene, and Doug Crosswhite, 33, outside the Southfork Saloon on Aug. 27 during an altercation about a golf cart. His pleas were entered at a Sept. 6 arraignment hearing before Judge Amy Eddy.
During the bail modification hearing, Crawford’s defense attorney, Daniel Wood, requested his bail be reduced, assuring the court that he was not a flight risk, he had a job and stable housing waiting for him if released and he did not have a history of violence or mental health instability.
“From the standpoint of him being a flight risk, it’s well established that he’s not going anywhere and he needs to be here,” Wood said. “He needs to take care of his son and move on with life as he prepares for the trial in this case. He has no business in the areas where the victims and their family lives. He doesn’t have any relationship with the individuals, as they testified, and I don’t think there’s any ongoing threat to them.”
Deputy Flathead County Attorney Stacy Boman argued that Crawford was a threat to public safety, especially since he had no relation to the victims.
“It is in part because the defendant had no relationship with these victims and how it came out in an argument and pushing about a golf cart and then introducing a firearm that has the state’s concern for public safety … The fact that these victims were seemingly random gives the state great concern of what would prevent this from happening again,” Boman said.
The defendant’s girlfriend and ex-wife testified at the hearing and both said Crawford always carried a firearm but stressed gun safety. They supported the bail reduction.
“During our marriage, he always had a concealed weapon … but it was always safe,” the defendant’s ex-wife said. “Guns in our house were used for hunting so we had a lot of hunting rifles, but the concealed weapons were never in my face.”
The ex-wife, who shares an 11-year-old son with the defendant, told the court that he was hardworking, dependable, has deep ties to the community and would not be a flight risk.
Jason Parce, an investigator with the Montana Office of State Public Defender and a former Kalispell Police Department officer, also testified and answered questions surrounding the details of the incident. During his investigation, he learned that a female pushed Crawford to the ground, at which point he fired shots.
Family members of the victims who testified at the hearing opposed the bail reduction and said they would not feel safe if he was released.
“My entire family and all my kids were there when he got in a verbal dispute with my daughter-in-law and ended up shooting her over it,” said Robert Crosswhite, the deceased victim’s father-in-law. “I don’t know the circumstances of why it happened. Whisper pleaded for him to call the police rather than continue to escalate the situation. That did not happen. It should have never (gone) where it did. This man carries a gun all the time, admittedly. He’s desperate, he’s going to be on the streets, and he will want to carry a gun for sure.”
According to Crosswhite, his son, Doug Crosswhite, has been in the hospital intermittently since the shooting.
During the hearing, Wood suggested to the court that the defendant’s actions were justified calling it, “as darn good a self-defense case as I can imagine.”
Judge Wilson said he disagreed.
“I have not heard any evidence to suggest that anyone threatened Mr. Crawford with a weapon or that anyone had a knife or a gun or that there was a threat to him before he fired the weapon,” Judge Wilson said.
According to an affidavit filed by Boman, the incident began when Crawford confronted a group of people who were attempting to start a golf cart outside the Southfork Saloon, which escalated into an argument that included “pushing and shoving.”
One witness told deputies that Sellars, the victim, and another woman were sitting in the golf cart taking pictures outside the bar when Crawford confronted them. After an argument ensued, Crawford pushed Sellars, the affidavit states, and Crosswhite, the other victim, pushed Crawford back.
At that point, Crawford “fell backwards, got up, pulled a handgun from his waistline, and began shooting,” the affidavit states.
When law enforcement arrived at the scene, they encountered witnesses performing CPR on Sellars, who had been shot in the chest and was not breathing, as well as Crosswhite, who’d been shot in the arm and the chest. He was sitting on the road in front of the bar with a tourniquet around his arm and a seal on his chest, the affidavit states.
Sellars was pronounced dead at the scene and Crosswhite was taken to Logan Health for further medical treatment, according to the records.
At that point, Cpl. Caleb Tappan reached Crawford by phone. The law enforcement officer reported that the defendant told him he was just up the road and had shot in self-defense. Tappan told Crawford to lay the gun down and walk up the road to the bar, the affidavit states, where deputies intercepted and arrested him.
Crawford remains jailed on $750,000 bail and he is scheduled to go to trial on Feb. 13, 2023.
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