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Courts

Trial Begins for Man Accused of Killing Employee Outside Kalispell Fitness Center

Prosecutors say Jonathan Douglas Shaw murdered the manager of Fuel Fitness and Nutrition Center and attempted to kill a gym member during a September 2021 shootout; defense calls his use of force “justified”

By Maggie Dresser
Jonathan Douglas Shaw stands trial in Flathead County District Court on July 10, 2023. Shaw faces charges of deliberate homicide and attempted deliberate homicide after a shootout outside of Fuel Fitness gym in Kalispell on Sept. 16, 2021. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The murder trial of a 37-year-old transient man accused of killing the manager of a Kalispell fitness center is now underway in Flathead County District Court, with jury selection and opening statements taking place on Monday, July 10.

The 14-member jury panel, which includes two alternates, heard opening statements and the first witness testimony in the case against Jonathan Douglas Shaw, who has pleaded not guilty to a felony count of deliberate homicide and a second felony count of attempted deliberate homicide. Judge Dan Wilson is presiding over the trial.

Deputy Flathead County Attorney Ashley Frechette said the victim, Fuel Fitness and Nutrition General Manager Matthew Hurley, had revoked Shaw’s gym membership on Sept. 16, 2021 and was attempting to refund his money. In an exchange that occurred in the parking lot outside the Kalispell business, the defendant told Hurley that he was “gonna die now” before shooting him four times, Frechette said.

Other Fuel Fitness employees told authorities that Shaw had been staying overnight in the gym’s parking lot in his truck with a trailer, which was detached, during the weeks leading up to the shooting. Shaw had been evicted from his Kalispell apartment weeks before the incident, prosecutors told the jury.

Following complaints from another gym employee who wanted him to leave, Hurley confronted Shaw and told him he was not permitted to stay overnight in the parking lot. Shaw refused to leave after the request, prompting Hurley and his assistant manager, Matthew Underhill, to revoke his membership. Together, Hurley and Underhill approached Shaw, who was inside his truck, and attempted to give him an envelope containing the cash he was being refunded for his revoked membership.

“Hurley and Underhill are talking to the defendant,” Frechette told the jury. “They tell him he can’t stay in the parking lot. The defendant would not take the envelope – he wanted more money.”

Hurley then told Underhill to call 911 and as he reached for his phone, he heard Shaw say, “you’re gonna die now,” followed by gunshots.

According to Frechette, forensic pathologist Dr. Aldo Fusaro conducted the autopsy and said he removed four bullets from Hurley’s body and determined the manner of death was deliberate homicide.

Gym member William Keck was exiting the facility following a workout and, upon learning of the shooting, retrieved a pistol from the center console of his truck. Keck then exchanged fire with Shaw, injuring his leg.

In Shaw’s defense attorney’s version of events, Hurley miscalculated the refund, causing him to refuse the money and react to the confrontation fearfully.

“The evidence will show that Jonathan Shaw reacted,” defense attorney Paul Simon told the court. “He assumed people were armed. He was armed. He was also outnumbered – fearing for his life in that split second. Mr. Shaw made the decision to draw his handgun and he shot Matthew four times.”

According to Simon, Shaw assumed that Hurley and Underhill were armed, justifying his use of force.

Shaw then returned to his truck, where he reversed the vehicle, hitting his trailer. Keck approached Shaw, shouting for him to exit his vehicle before they exchanged fire, with four shots striking Shaw, and one striking Keck.

Simon said that evidence shows Keck fired the first shot.

Defense counsel told the court that Shaw, who entered the courtroom using the assistance of an upright walker, sustained “life-threatening” injuries during the shootout.

During witness testimony, Fuel Fitness employee Jennifer Williamson told the court that she and a client were in the parking lot using tire equipment as part of their workout about 10 days prior to the incident when Shaw appeared.

“We didn’t realize there was somebody in the parking lot,” Williamson said. “We see a man standing there. He had his arms on his hips and he was looking at us in an unhappy way. It was very uncomfortable.”

Williamson said the defendant didn’t say anything to her, but she described him as “creepy.” Following the incident, she repeatedly told Hurley to do something about his presence in the parking lot.

Also during testimony, Underhill took the stand and told the court that he wanted to accompany Hurley when he confronted Shaw to offer additional backup.

Underhill described the confrontation as calm with Shaw avoiding eye contact and only saying that he wanted more money.

According to Underhill, after Hurley told Shaw he couldn’t offer him more money, Shaw sat on the wheel well of his trailer before he walked toward them in an “aggressive manner.” At this point, Hurley told Underhill to call 911. Soon after, he heard gunshots and saw that Hurley had been shot.

“I saw him grab his stomach and fall over,” Underhill said.

Witness testimony will continue Tuesday, July 11 at 9 a.m.

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