A Flathead County jury on Friday found 33-year-old Steven Justin Hedrick guilty of a single count of deliberate homicide in the January 2023 death of Jeff Brookshire, a resident at a Whitefish apartment complex who was fatally shot during an altercation over noise levels.
The verdict came in at 6:48 p.m. on Jan. 19 after more than six hours of deliberation. Hedrick was remanded to the custody of the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 7.
Judge Amy Eddy presided over the Flathead County District Court trial that began Jan. 16.
According charging documents, Whitefish Police Department officers responded to the shooting at 1:27 a.m. on Jan. 24, 2023. Upon arrival, they found several people standing outside the Locals Monthly Lodging apartment complex, including a “distraught female” and Hedrick, who was on crutches and identified himself as the shooting suspect when asked by officers.
Law enforcement located the deceased victim, who had an apparent gunshot wound to the head, on the first-floor hallway of an apartment complex at 6400 Highway 93 South.
Prior to the shooting, Brookeshire, who lived on the second floor, was “loudly” knocking on the door of his ex-girlfriend’s room, who lived two doors down from Hedrick, and was yelling for her. During the investigation, she told officers that they had broken up and the victim moved out of their shared room the day before, according to charging documents.
When the loud knocking continued, Hedrick confronted Brookshire and another neighbor threatened to call the cops, prompting the noise to stop.
The suspect told police he went outside following the confrontation to smoke a cigarette and returned to his room. Shortly after, records state he heard “normal” knocking again on his neighbor’s door and Hedrick retrieved a silver revolver and placed it on a counter beside the door.
Hedrick said he opened the door and began communicating with Brookshire again when the confrontation escalated, according to court records. Brookshire began yelling and “posturing” toward Hedrick, who raised the revolver, pulled the hammer back and aimed it at the victim’s head. This prompted Brookshire to approach Hedrick and, according to court records, place his hand on the barrel of the gun while it was aimed at his face. He was then shot through the mouth, records state.
According to court records, Hedrick told officers he “just had (the gun) there for a show of strength.”
Hedrick’s trial was continued last fall after his previous attorneys, Lane Bennett and Sean Hinchey, argued that Flathead County’s jury pool was improperly drawn when the clerk of court did not follow proper protocol when she failed to follow up with residents who don’t respond to their jury notices. The attorneys petitioned the Montana Supreme Court for a writ of supervisory control, asking the high court to intervene in the case and determine the next steps.
The issue reflected a statewide trend that has disrupted criminal cases headed for trial across Montana.
However, the Flathead County District Court submitted a summary response to Chief Justice Mike McGrath explaining that it had provided a certified list of individuals who had not responded to the previous jury notices to the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office “and the Sheriff’s Office will personally serve these individuals,” according to the jurist’s order, which declared the matter “resolved.”
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