Belfry murder suspect bought beer and propositioned gas station - KRTV News in Great Falls, Montana

Belfry murder suspect bought beer and propositioned gas station clerk after shooting

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Robert LeCou, accused in the execution-style murder of three Belfry residents Robert LeCou, accused in the execution-style murder of three Belfry residents

Hours before a family of three was murdered at their Belfry residence in 2016, the suspect - James LeCou - was cut off by a bartender for consuming too much alcohol.

That testimony was delivered on Wednesday in Carbon County District Court, where LeCou, 40 years old, is charged with the murders of Karen LeCou, Sharon Lamb, and Lloyd Lamb.

Sara Schaad, who bartended at the Silver Tip bar in Belfry last year, testified about her encounter with LeCou on the afternoon of the murder.

“He was very friendly,” said Schaad, who testified that she served LeCou a drink and a shot around 3 p.m.

LeCou next went to the Belfry Bar, where he was served five drinks by bartender Megan Bauwens.

Bauwens eventually cut him off after noticing LeCou stagger.

Authorities who testified on Tuesday estimate the murders happened in the evening.

Residents of Belfry who testified about hearing the gunfire testified that they heard the shots fired around 7:30 p.m.

LeCou told investigators at the time of his arrest last year that he had left Belfry around noon, hours before the victims were killed.

But Jon Burrel, an analyst for the Montana Department of Justice, testified that he was determined through cellphone tracking technology that LeCou’s cellphone had last pinged a tower in the Belfry area at 6:24 p.m.

LeCou made 87 phone calls between April 1 and April 7, according to Burrel.

After LeCou left Belfry, he made several stops at gas stations across Montana before arriving in Spokane.

LeCou first stopped at a gas station in Columbus, where the store manager testified that he purchased gas and a 6-pack of beer around 8:45 p.m.

LeCou was next seen at a gas station in Butte around 11:45 p.m.

Brad Lane, who was working as a clerk at the gas station that night, testified that LeCou’s behavior was strange and even frightening.

“His concentration was like he was looking through you,” said Lane. “It raises the hair on the back of my neck.”

Lane said LeCou paced through the store for several minutes, talking to himself and muttering about snacks.

“I thought I was going to be robbed,” said Lane, who told his manager about the encounter the next morning.

LeCou left and continued driving until he reached a gas station in Wallace, Idaho, sometime after midnight.

Denise Grimms was working the graveyard shift at that time and remembers that night well because it was her birthday.

"I was having a pity party," said Grimms, who was also feeling sad about her husband’s rapidly declining health.

But her attitude changed when she met LeCou, who seemed to be having a worse night.

“He asked me about my husband and he said he understood because his wife had just passed," said Grimms.

Grimm never learned the circumstances of the Karen LeCou’s death, but testified that LeCou quickly turned his attention back to her.

"He asked me if I wanted a birthday present and there was hotel next door,” said Grimms.

Defense attorney Edward Werner took issue with the fact that Grimms hadn’t disclosed this proposition to detectives when she was first interviewed.

“I don’t know, I was embarrassed,” said Grimms. “I know I told them later and I told my husband about it.”

Grimms said LeCou told her he was delivering a truck as part for a job and asked her to join him, but she declined.

Receipts collected from each of the gas stations show LeCou paid for his purchases with his wife’s credit card.

Division of Criminal Investigation Agent Mark Hilyard testified that, aside from Karen LeCou’s credit card, no money, wallets or valuables were taken from the victims’ home.

“That tells me it’s not a robbery,” said HIlyard. “The number of shots fired into the bodies, to me, that shows anger.”

The victims were shot a combined 17 times, from what Hilyard could tell.

Prized possessions of the victims were also destroyed, telling Hilyard the murders were personal.

Karen LeCou’s pickup truck, which she never let anyone drive, was found crashed in Washington state.

A display case featuring Sharon Lamb’s collection of pig figurines was turned upside down and smashed.

And the family’s Chihuahua, Precious, went missing shortly before the murders and has never been found.

Detectives found cigarette ash on the floor of the bedroom, which struck them as off because the house was immaculately cleaned and the Lambs did not allow anyone to smoke in the home.

Witnesses testified that LeCou is a known smoker.


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