NewsCrime and Courts


Billings murder suspect had lengthy criminal history

mcclure, michael musselshell co.JPG
mcclure, michael.JPG
Posted at 8:00 PM, Apr 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-27 22:04:18-04

Michael Lee McClure, one of two suspects in last week's crime spree in Yellowstone County that left a man dead, was well-known to law enforcement agencies, with a criminal history of drug possession, robbery, assault, police chases, and outstanding warrants.

In January of 2019, McClure was arrested in Musselshell County and charged with three felonies and three misdemeanors, for stealing two cars and then attempting to escape from the Musselshell County jail.

According to court documents, Musselshell County Sheriff Shawn Lesnik apprehended McClure after responding to report of a stolen truck from the Kilby Butte Colony. Witnesses saw the suspect drive into the front gate of the Colony at high speed and abandon a car that turned out to be stolen from Billings and then steal a truck. McClure refused to follow law enforcement commands and began to run before finally being apprehended.

Later, as McClure was being taken to a holding cell in the Musselshell County jail before his initial court appearance, he broke away the Sheriff and bolted toward an open door leading into the dispatch center before finally being restrained. He pleaded not guilty and was later released on his own recognizance.

In August of 2020, a petition was filed to revoke McClure’s release after he was arrested in Powell County on suspicion of robbery and inflicting bodily injury to another person.

Last month, McClure went to trial in Musselshell County and made a deal to plead guilty to most of the charges against him. He was allowed to remain free pending sentencing, but never showed up to complete pre-sentencing requirements despite having an ankle monitor.

Musselshell County Sheriff Shawn Lesnik says he was disappointed that County Attorney Kevin Peterson accepted a plea and allowed McClure to remain free before sentencing: “He should have been in custody. He proved time and time again that he wouldn’t follow requests.”

The Sheriff says he wasn’t surprised to see McClure’s name come up again: “I think all my deputies would agree, he was legitimately a bad guy."

McClure, 26 years old, died Friday after a nine- hour standoff with police in Billings of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Click here for details.

The stand-off came after McClure and Kristy Lynn Chavez allegedly abducted and killed 33-year-old Dennis Gresham at the Yellowstone River Campground in Billings. A GoFundMe account has been created to help the Gresham family; click here if you would like to donate.