by Travis Mateer
I didn’t expect to be confronted with the scenario the Stevenson family was DENIED by the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office/Coroner during the jury selection portion of Lee Nelson’s murder trial, but I’m not surprised.
Lee Nelson was staying at the Poverello Center before he was brutally murdered, the same homeless shelter where Sean Stevenson was rendered unconscious, then resuscitated, only to be REMOVED from life support by the Missoula County Coroner BEFORE Sean’s family could be notified. When I tell people this they wonder how something like this could happen. It’s now year THREE and I don’t have a good answer for them.
To explain the concept of BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT to the giant courtroom full of prospective jurors, the defense attorney used the example of preparing to take a family member off of life support, as in you would want to be DAMN CERTAIN you were doing the right thing. Now, imagine some Sheriff Deputy, who also acts as the coroner, making that decision for you? Then imagine the Sheriff who led that office (same Sheriff’s Office that conveniently shot and killed the alleged assailant in the assault against Sean Stevenson) throwing his Sheriff hat into the Mayor’s race.
Since the Mayor who held office when Sean Stevenson was euthanized at St. Pats died himself during his fifth term, a special election will be held later this year to officially replace him. While the two candidates who faced off in the dark alley decision of 2022 have made their intentions public, there are now TWO other candidates who can be identified via public records and this helpful tweet from Daniel Carlino:
While I said a lot about my perception on the suitability of our former Sheriff, T.J. McDermott, in this post about his magical badge, I haven’t said anything yet about Sean McCoy, probably because who the heck is this guy?
A quick search turned up an incident I recall from my college days, when an Earth First! activist attached himself to a logging truck, then repelled off the edge of the Madison bridge, dangling until first responders brought him down. Here’s the Missoulian reporting on the outcome of the trial that resulted from this 2002 “stunt” (emphasis mine):
Told by the prosecutor to act as “the voice of this community,” a Missoula District Court jury found Earth First! protester Sean McCoy guilty Thursday night of deliberately endangering the lives of firefighters by roping himself to a logging truck and rappelling off the Madison Street Bridge last summer.
“This was an outrageous stunt,” Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg told jurors in his closing statement. “Protest is an important part of our democracy; it’s part of who we are. Nobody takes issue with that. But Sean McCoy and the Earth First! crowd are taking this too far. They put firefighters’ lives at risk with their little stunt.”
The seven-woman, five-man jury returned three hours later with a guilty verdict, which could put McCoy in jail for 10 years or cost him $50,000 in fines. District Judge Douglas Harkin set sentencing for March 18.
What’s Sean McCoy doing now? Running a little farm named after Frank Little. And who will his candidacy potentially siphon votes from? Jordan Hess, would be my opinion. Does that change my calculation on the prospects of T.J. McDermott? Yes it does, and it makes the need for the people in this town to FUCKING PAY ATTENTION even more critical.
As the top of this post indicates, Lee Nelson’s murder trial started this week, and yesterday was the first official day of testimony from cops and witnesses. It was a difficult day for me to sit in that courtroom, so I’m going to try and process what I heard and saw, but here’s my first impression of the defense strategy: they are putting Detective Guy Baker and the police investigation on trial.
The image on the screen is the bloodied head of Lee Nelson. I hope followers of my blog aren’s as squeamish as our LEAD County Attorney, Kirsten Pabst, who popped into courtroom briefly, but left before JC Denton’s body-cam footage finished showing the awful scene.
I may wait until Sunday to write more extensively about this trial, which is expected to go into next week, because there are other things to document that conventional media won’t, like the infamous Gwen Jones going DECORUM on a public commenter at Monday’s Council meeting.
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Thanks for reading!