BOZEMAN — After deliberating two hours, a jury in Gallatin County found Paul Joseph DeWise guilty of deliberate homicide for the shooting death of his estranged wife Lauren.
DeWise was also found guilty of using a firearm and attempted deliberate homicide for shooting Ashley Van Hemert in January 2018.
The seven-day trial included testimony from Lauren's roommate Van Hemert and two of DeWise's children, Joseph DeWise Jr. and Natalie DeWise.
DeWise’s testimony on Tuesday began quietly, recalling his relationship with Lauren -- including what he calls were “good times” traveling across the country.
But when asked about audio and video recordings found on his phone , where he threatens to kill her -- DeWise’s demeanor changed.
"I never threatened my wife in any way like that. I don't...I'm not that kind of a person. I respect and I loved her strength and her individuality."
DeWise says he did not go back to Audria Butler’s home, in Belgrade -- where Lauren and Ashley Van Hemert were sleeping when someone broke in and shot them both.
"I don't remember doing a lot that day. I was sick and I would doze on and off throughout the day and I'd be on my phone and…"
DeWise says that was it.
When the prosecution brought forth the recordings and evidence linking the cartridges found to the .22 Ruger pistol found in a Bozeman pond and purchased by DeWise -- DeWise became angry.
"There's a lot of circumstantial evidence out there, alright? But you know what? If a lot of you took a real good look at your life and you thought about things that you did and something bad happened, you could be in the same boat I'm in."
DeWise also claimed he never threatened his wife -- following an audio tape of Paul’s voice telling Lauren he would kill her. "I'm not a controlling person. I don't even know how to do that. And anybody who knows me knows that."
DeWise confirmed he called his daughter from jail, too -- but denies asking her to put the blame on her brother, Joe. The state wants to...wanted to put so much pressure on me that I would just crack and take the blame for it so that I could get out of the horrible situation I was in.”
DeWise claims the person who killed Lauren and shot Van Hemert is still on the loose. "I have been falsely accused here. I didn't do it and I don't deserve to go to prison and what you've done is wrong, okay? That is the truth."
In closing arguments, prosecutors cited Lauren suffering abuse at the hands of DeWise -- recalling how he put trackers on her car and, on several occasions struck her -- saying his manipulation needs to come to an end.
Defense attorneys said the opposite, claiming there is doubt and there could still be another suspect, citing the lack of DNA evidence.
Judge Holly Brown set DeWise's sentencing for February 4th.
- DECEMBER 4, 2019: Trial begins for DeWise, accused of killing his wife