Evidence Hearing in Accused Double Murderer Standingrock Case
On Friday, attorneys for Augustus Standingrock held a hearing before District Judge James Wheelis to oppose the addition of certain evidence by the prosecution in their client’s case.
Standingrock, along with his co-defendant Tiffanie Rae Pierce, are accused of killing and then dismembering 24 year-old Jackson Wiles and 14 year-old Marilyn Pickett.
In 2013, Standingrock was accused of attacking his stepfather with a crowbar because he believed the man had abused his sister. The state contends that Standingrock also believed the victim, Jackson Wiles, committed a similar act.
The purpose of the hearing was explained by Deputy County Attorney Selene Koepke.
“There are ways we can get in evidence of past crimes,” began Koepke. “Typically, we’re prevented from using evidence from past crimes unless there are specific exceptions. The state believes there was a motive argument that could be made here in which the defendant Standingrock committed an assault against his stepfather. The state believes, based on his own statements, that the defendant believed the stepfather had done some harm to Standingrock’s sister, and we believe that’s the same motive for the underlying case here that we’re currently prosecuting.”
And why is this argument important to the case’s state against Augustus Standingrock?
“Motive is not something the state has to prove at trial, but it’s something that helps create a story that the jury can understand and relate to, and so we’re trying to put this forth as part of the motive for why this crime was committed.”
Standingrock’s attorney, Nick Brooke, asked Judge Wheelis not to allow the state to use what he termed ‘shaky evidence’ to tie the 2013 charges to the current case.
Judge Wheelis, called out of retirement to handle this case, took all the arguments under advisement, and said he would issue his ruling soon.
Relatives of both victims were in the courtroom to hear the arguments before Judge Wheelis.
Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst said Standingrock’s trial is scheduled for later in the fall.