A tentative trial date is set for spring for one of two suspects in last October's double homicide at the Mountain Valley Inn, although a plea agreement is still on the table, his defense attorney said Thursday.
Jonathan Reed Whitworth, 28, appeared in Missoula County District Court on Wednesday to follow up on a plea agreement offered by prosecutors, the terms of which have not been disclosed. Thomas Schoenleben, Whitworth's defense attorney, said during the hearing he wants to go through more evidence produced by investigators with his client, but reserved the opportunity to file a motion to change Whitworth's plea in the future.
"We're going to have continuing conversations about that, so I'd like to reserve that motion," he told Judge Leslie Halligan.
With the case hesitantly moving forward, parties scheduled trial to begin April 20 and run an expected eight days. A hearing to revisit the plea deal was set for mid-December.
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Whitworth is charged with two counts of deliberate homicide and two counts of intimidation, as is Preston Rossbach, 19. Both were arrested after Missoula police found Jason Flink, 23, and Megan McLaughlin, 31, shot and killed in a motel room in downtown Missoula. A third person, Kaleb Williams, survived the shooting.
Whitworth and Rossbach both pleaded innocent to related charges.
Prosecutors allege the killings were carried out at the Mountain Valley Inn because Whitworth and Rossbach went there to find the drug dealer who sold them "bad drugs." Even after finding the assumed target was not in the room, Whitworth shot all three people there and Rossbach stabbed two before fleeing the motel, according to court filings.
Rossbach's defense is amidst an effort to have his case relocated to juvenile court on prosecutors' claim he stole the gun used in the shooting prior to his eighteenth birthday. Judge Halligan has yet to rule on that motion.