The Missoula man accused of shooting a convenience store clerk during an apparent robbery attempt in East Missoula pleaded not guilty Wednesday morning to the charges against him.
Christopher Burch, 23, is charged with attempted deliberate homicide and robbery.
Missoula County District Judge Ed McLean explained to Burch that conviction on the attempted homicide charge could bring him life in prison, or not less than 10 years or not more than 100 years.
Burch, who appeared by closed-circuit television from the Missoula County jail, said he understood, then entered his pleas on both charges.
His alleged accomplice, Preston Hanna, 24, pleaded not guilty last week to accountability to both of those charges. Accountability carries the same penalties.
Hanna allegedly provided the rifle used in the shooting, and drove Burch to and from the store at about 3 a.m. Sept. 7, although he waited outside while Burch went in, according to charging documents.
Once inside, Burch allegedly demanded all the store’s money, according to the documents. When clerk Adam Gallagos, who was cleaning a beverage counter, said “no,” Burch allegedly shot him, the documents said.
Gallegos’ injuries included the loss of his right lung, according to family members.
Burch and Hanna are being held in the Missoula County Detention Facility on $500,000 bail apiece.
Reporter Gwen Florio can be reached at 523-5268, firstname.lastname@example.org or @CopsAndCourts.