Defense counsel for the suspected shooter in October's double homicide at a downtown Missoula motel believes a plea agreement offered by prosecutors may resolve the case, he said in court on Wednesday.
Jonathan Reed Whitworth, 28, is one of two defendants charged with the Oct. 19 fatal shooting of Jason Flink, 23, and Megan McLaughlin, 31, in a room at the Mountain Valley Inn. A third person, Kaleb Williams, survived the attack.
Whitworth, who earlier pleaded not guilty and is now on his second round of defense attorneys after his initial public defender had a connection to one of the victims, appeared in Missoula County District Court via video link for a status hearing on Wednesday. Defense attorney Thomas Schoenleben told Judge Leslie Halligan he has received a plea agreement offer from prosecutors and planned to go over the details with Whitworth in the coming days.
"I do have a proposed plea agreement, which I am looking forward to bringing to Mr. Whitworth," Schoenleben said. "I believe we can get this wrapped up."
No details of the proposed plea agreement were discussed in court on Wednesday.
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Whitworth's case has moved at a crawl since his arrest nearly a year ago. Co-defendant Preston Rossbach, who also earlier pleaded not guilty, has seen more action in court. His attorney and prosecutors grappled earlier this year over a videoed interview with investigators in which Rossbach admitted to being present during the double homicide as police pushed questioning past the point in which he invoked his right against self incrimination.
In previous court filings, prosecutors allege Rossbach indicated Whitworth was the shooter, while claiming only to have carried a knife.
Prosecutors allege the killings were carried out at the Mountain Valley Inn because Whitworth and Rossbach went there to find a 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.
Both Whitworth and Rossbach are charged with two counts of deliberate homicide and two counts of intimidation. Rossbach is also charged with tampering with evidence after his cellmate told investigators he had buried the knife and Whitworth had thrown the gun into a river.
Whitworth's next hearing was set for Sept. 26 at 1:30 p.m. in Missoula District Court.