TOWNSEND — Friday was an emotional day at the Broadwater County Courthouse, as Broadwater County Sheriff's Deputy Mason Moore’s family and fellow officers spoke about the impact of his death, and Lloyd Barrus – the man convicted in Moore’s 2017 death – addressed what happened that day.
“It’s been a long five years, patiently waiting for this day to arrive,” said Broadwater County Undersheriff Brandon Harris.
After several hours of testimony, District Court Judge Kathy Seeley sentenced Barrus to three life sentences in prison, without the possibility of parole. He was convicted last year of deliberate homicide by accountability for Moore’s killing, and two counts of attempted deliberate homicide by accountability against other officers.
Prosecutors said that Barrus’ son Marshall shot Moore on May 17, 2017, after he attempted to make a traffic stop on their vehicle near Three Forks. The two men then led authorities on a nearly 150-mile chase that ended on Interstate 90 near Missoula. There, Marshall was killed in a shootout with officers, and Lloyd was taken into custody.
On Friday, prosecutors – along with Moore’s family and friends – urged Seeley to sentence Barrus to life in prison without parole.
“Please use all of your authority to help Jodi Moore, her children and the Moore family find peace and some comfort in their lives,” Harris said. “Give them peace by knowing that the evil that took Mason away from them will be locked away from society forever. Give them comfort in knowing that they will never have to return to testify in a parole hearing or a court hearing again.”
Broadwater County Attorney Cory Swanson spoke by video call, because he is currently on a leave of absence serving a Montana National Guard deployment. He pointed to an incident in 2000, when Barrus and another of his sons led law enforcement on a chase through the California desert and were believed to have fired on officers.
“We were just dumbfounded, and we said ‘How did this man get out of prison?’” Swanson said. “That’s all I would say: I don’t ever want another family, or another agency to ask, ‘How did this man get out of prison?’ Because if he does, he will do this again. He needs to stay in prison; he needs to die in prison.”
Mason Moore’s brother expressed anger toward Barrus, saying he didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of dwelling on his family’s pain.
Finally, Moore’s wife Jodi spoke about the effect his loss has had on her and on their three children.
“The physical, mental and emotional toll this has taken on us is immeasurable,” she said. “None of this is okay. There is no excuse, no reason, no explanation, none.”
Jodi Moore called Barrus “pure evil” and an extremist, and she said the death of her husband was “an execution.”
She ended her statement by reading a letter that her husband had left for her, in case of his death. It ended, “I love you now and always – your loving husband.”
“This is the man that you took from us,” she said to Barrus. “You robbed me of being able to spend the rest of my life with him.”
Barrus himself addressed the court on Friday. He expressed regret, but said he couldn’t offer an explanation for what happened.
“I’m truly sorry for the Moore family’s loss,” he said.
Barrus’ attorneys again asked that he be sentenced to the Montana State Hospital, instead of prison. They said it’s undisputed he suffers from a severe delusional disorder, and they argued he needs to be kept in a therapeutic setting.
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Attorney Greg Jackson criticized the state prison’s handling of mentally ill patients and said sending Barrus there would simply be “warehousing” him.
“We’ve heard talk about him being evil,” he said. “Mr. Barrus is seriously mentally ill, and as a result of that, should – in spite of what he has done – be treated humanely.”
But Seeley, who previously ruled Barrus was able to understand the criminality of his actions despite his illness, rejected that argument.
“He never, in his rendition of what occurred on that night, has cited fears or delusions,” she said. “He has cited helping his son, and that his son wanted to avoid a charge of attempted murder.”
Seeley said she doubted whether there would be much difference in having him at the prison or the state hospital, questioning whether he would continue his mental health treatment under any circumstance if he’s not forced to. She sentenced him to three life sentences in prison without the possibility of parole – though she allowed them to be served at the same time, instead of back-to-back as prosecutors had requested.
Dan Guzynski, one of two prosecutors from the Montana Department of Justice who handled the case, told MTN Barrus will likely be taken to the Lewis and Clark County Detention Center Friday evening, before being transferred to prison on Saturday.
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