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Suspect in Bigfork shooting defers plea

Suspect in Bigfork shooting defers plea

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KALISPELL - The suspect in a September shooting declined to enter a plea Wednesday, with his attorney instead requesting a psychiatric evaluation.

Gary Thaut, 46, stands accused of shooting a Bigfork man in the parking lot of a local church on the morning of Sept. 20. Robert Myers, 60, survived the point-blank shotgun blast, which was partially deflected by his car window.

Myers was waiting for his wife outside the couple's church when Thaut allegedly walked casually up to the driver's side of Myers' car and fired one round at his head. Witnesses said he then walked back to his car and drove slowly north toward Columbia Falls.

Police later learned that the two men had known one another previously, and speculated that a soured real-estate deal had left Thaut angry with Myers.

Thaut was arrested in Florida following the shooting, where prosecutors say he was attempting to leave the country.

On Wednesday, Thaut's attorney, Julianne Hinchey, asked District Judge Ted Lympus to postpone the arraignment pending the psychological evaluation. That evaluation is to be performed by Dr. John McKinnon of Kalispell, and should determine whether Thaut is capable of understanding the charges against him.

An arraignment date has not been set. Thaut remains in the Flathead County Detention Center; bail was set at $250,000 bail.

Thursday - 12/31/98
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