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Courts

Transient Man Sentenced to 170 Years in Kalispell Fitness Center Murder

A Flathead County jury in July convicted Jonathan Douglas Shaw of two felony counts of deliberate homicide and attempted deliberate homicide following a September 2021 shootout

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 37-year-old transient man convicted of killing the manager of a Kalispell fitness center and shooting a gym patron in the business’ parking lot in September of 2021 has been sentenced to 170 years in the Montana State Prison with parole eligibility restricted to 55 years.

A Flathead County jury in July found Jonathan Douglas Shaw guilty of a felony count of deliberate homicide and a second count of attempted deliberate homicide in the death of 27-year-old Matthew Hurley and the shooting of William Keck in the Fuel Fitness and Nutrition parking lot.

In September 2021, Hurley and his assistant manager Matthew Underhill approached Shaw in the establishment’s parking lot to revoke his gym membership and tell him he could not sleep overnight on the property in his parked trailer. The defendant, who argued self-defense throughout the trial, shot Hurley four times. Gym patron William Keck then ran to his vehicle to obtain a firearm and the two exchanged fire.

Flathead County District Court Judge Dan Wilson imposed the sentence at a Nov. 30 hearing, delivering a 100-year sentence for the first count of deliberate homicide with an additional 10 years for weapons enhancement. Another 50-year sentence for the second count of attempted deliberate homicide with an additional 10 years for weapons enhancement was also imposed. The sentences will run consecutively.

Judge Wilson cited the defendant’s irrational behavior and his threat to public safety in his decision.

“Mr. Shaw is, in the court’s view, perhaps more dangerous than even a psychotic, malicious personality bent on causing mass death or destruction in this sense,” Judge Wilson said. “Mr. Shaw murdered Matthew Hurley and would have and could have murdered Mr. Keck for reasons that defy rational explanation.”

In his decision to restrict Shaw’s parole to 55 years, Judge Wilson said he wanted to assure the defendant would not have the opportunity to “commit such an act” again.

“The court finds in summary that Mr. Shaw killed and murdered Matthew Hurley in the most irrational, irreverent and cold-blooded manner that a human being could possibly be motivated by to commit such a heinous act,” Judge Wilson said.

Judge Dan Wilson presides over the trial of Jonathan Douglas Shaw 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

Judge Wilson imposed a lighter sentence than the maximum net sentence of 220 years that Deputy Flathead County Attorney John Donovan recommended, who argued that the defendant is a threat to society and the victim’s family deserves justice.

“That’s the testimony of a dangerous person who put other people’s lives at risk and the state believes he would do it again given the opportunity,” Donovan said.

Shaw’s Missoula-based defense attorneys Paul Simon and Colin Stephens cited his lack of criminal history and maintained that the defendant believed he was acting in self-defense. They asked for two concurrent 60-year sentences with parole eligibility restricted to 18 years.

At the hearing, several of Hurley’s family members testified to a courtroom full of his supporters and described the traumatizing impact his death has had on their lives. Their testimonies collectively casted doubt on the defendant’s remorsefulness, and they requested that Shaw receive the maximum sentence.

Matthew Underhill, the former assistant manager of Fuel Fitness who witnessed the shooting, told the court he believed Shaw should not have the opportunity to walk free.

“All I can say, is he’s chosen to take something from all of us with no remorse,” Underhill said. “I don’t think someone like that should have the opportunity to just walk the streets every again. He’s proven that multiple times over in his conduct throughout the trial.”

Hurley’s father, David Hurley provided an emotional testimony for the court and described the devastating grief he and his family has endured over the past two years while asking the court to impose the maximum sentence.

“This was not an accidental shooting – it was cold-blooded murder,” David said. “He has shown that he has no regard for human life and therefore should be locked up the rest of his natural life.”

Shaw, who entered the courtroom using walker as a result of injuries sustained in the shootout, did not testify. He was remanded to the custody of the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office.

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