LIBBY — The 64-year-old longtime Kalispell attorney convicted of seriously injuring his ex-partner and killing her 52-year-old male companion in a shooting that occurred last year after he followed them to a Libby campground has been sentenced to 60 years in the Montana State Prison.
Garry Douglas Seaman pleaded guilty to felony charges of deliberate homicide and attempted deliberate homicide in Lincoln County District Court as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors. He originally pleaded not guilty to charges in June 2022; however, he changed his plea in August before Missoula District Judge Jason Marks.
Judge Marks accepted the plea agreement laid out between Lincoln County Attorney Marcia Boris and Deputy Lincoln County Attorney Jeffrey Zwang, along with defense attorneys Nick Brooke and John Smith. Each count will run concurrently, and Seaman will not be eligible for parole until he has served a minimum of 18 years, by which point he would be 82 years old. If he becomes eligible for parole, he would be prohibited from owning or carrying a dangerous weapon and he would be required to register as a violent offender.
Seaman is ordered to pay $5,737 in restitution, most of which will be transferred to a Crime Victim Compensation Fund. None of the victims requested restitution, which was previously settled in civil court.
Seaman received credit for 501 days served in the Lincoln County Detention Center.
Judge Marks cited the sentencing term’s conformity to the plea agreement and the lack of objection from the victims in the case. He also noted that by the time Seaman would be eligible for parole, his advanced age would likely reduce his threat to society.
“Mr. Seaman, I frankly don’t know that you will see the outside of a prison ever again and that’s probably for the best given what you did here,” Judge Marks said. “I think that your anger or whatever drove you that day is something that lives deep inside you, and I don’t know that anybody should be exposed to that again. But that will be between you and the almighty going forward.”
During the sentencing hearing, Seaman made a brief apology to the court.
“I’m sorry for what I’ve done,” Seaman said. “I’ve hurt a lot of people – I regret what I’ve done, and I have remorse every day. And I hope that someday you can find it in your hearts to forgive me.”
Additionally, the wife of James Preston Freeman – who was fatally shot in the incident – provided emotional testimony in which she described the pain and suffering she and her five daughters have endured following the murder.
“Our family has had to face this unbearable situation,” said Dawn Freeman, the victim’s wife. “The pain and agony we have gone through is really indescribable. The price we pay and the toll it takes on us is immeasurable. We will live the rest of our lives without our loved one James Preston Freeman – husband, father, son, and brother.”
“Garry Seaman does not deserve to be released from prison to enjoy his life now. Murdering James should cost him his every freedom, comfort, wealth and prosperity that he once had,” she added.
Freeman’s teenage daughter also provided testimony at the hearing, describing the impacts her father’s murder has had on her family.
“I hope you know that absolutely everything in our lives has changed in the worst of ways since you decided to take my dad’s life … If you haven’t taken anything out of this, I hope you take away the fact that you didn’t have to do this. The devil got ahold of you and as he does bring out the worst in people – I feel sorry that he had such a grip on you to make such a violent decision to do this. I wouldn’t wish this situation on my worst enemies,” she said.
Missoula-based attorney David Cotner testified on behalf of the female victim, telling the court that there was no objection to the plea agreement.
“[My client] too, like the Freeman family, desires to bring closure to these proceedings,” Cotner said. “She’s asked me to instruct to the court that she does not object to the plea agreement that has been entered between the county and Mr. Seaman. We have filed an affidavit of punitive losses and we’ve resolved that matter through civil negotiations and there’s no request for a restitution.”
According to court documents, Seaman was charged in May 2022 with a felony count of deliberate homicide and a second felony count of attempted deliberate homicide after he followed the two victims to a Libby-area campground in a jealous rampage, shooting them both multiple times. He was also charged with a felony count of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, which was dismissed as part of the plea bargain.
When Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office deputies and the Libby Volunteer Ambulance crew arrived at the Alexander Creek Campground near the Libby Dam at 2:47 p.m. on May 21, 2022, authorities found James Freeman, who died from gunshot wounds to his torso, and the injured woman, who also had multiple gunshot wounds.
First responders rendered medical aid to the injured woman and transported her to a nearby rendezvous site, where a helicopter transported her to a hospital.
At the scene, the still-conscious victim identified the suspect as Seaman, who had fled the scene in his vehicle. Lincoln County investigators obtained an arrest warrant for Seaman and brought him into custody the following day, records state.
Authorities booked Seaman in the Lincoln County Detention Center on May 24 following a transfer from the Flathead County Detention Center, where he was booked the day after the shooting.
On April 25, 2022, the female victim, who shares a minor child with Seaman and had worked for him since 1994, was denied a temporary order of protection in Flathead County Justice Court. According to documents, she had recently ended a 15-year relationship with Seaman, writing that he was heavily armed, stalking her, tracking her cell phone, and that she did “not feel safe anywhere near him.” Flathead County Justice of the Peace Paul Sullivan issued the denial notice and stated that “the information submitted does not support the conclusion that you are in danger and that the circumstances require the court to act without notice to the other party.”
According to the woman’s statement in the petition, she described harassment following her decision to break off their relationship, resulting in a request for civil-standby assistance from the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office.
Less than a month later, Seaman was arrested on deliberate homicide and attempted deliberate homicide charges for gunning down the woman and Freeman.
Seaman’s defense team wrote in their brief in support of the motion that the $25 million bail “may be the highest ever imposed in Montana, and more than double the highest amount ever imposed in either the Fourth or Nineteenth judicial districts. The only purpose for such a number would be to make it impossible for the Defendant to post bail.”
If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, the Abbie Shelter operates a 24-hour crisis helpline at (406) 752-7273. Additional information can be found at www.abbieshelter.org.
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