(MTN News-HELENA) The case of a Helena man accused of killing a home intruder is now in the hands of a jury.

Closing arguments in the murder trial of James Stiffler were heard on the afternoon of Wednesday, February 11 in District court.

County Attorney Leo Gallagher told the jury that Stiffler knowingly killed Henry Johnson on May 22, 2013.  Gallagher said Stiffler did not go into his home that day armed with a gun to protect his wife, but rather his intent was to arrest Johnson.

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Gallagher also said Stiffler escalated the situation saying Johnson was unarmed when Stiffler confronted him.  He also stated that someone inside your home does not deserve to die.

Stiffler’s defense attorney, Quentin Rhoades, said a cold blooded killer would have fired more than once, unlike his client.

Rhoades said Stiffler was scared when he saw a stranger in his home and he went inside to investigate. He also criticized how the crime scene was handled by investigators, saying the bullet that killed Johnson was lost.

Rhoades told the jury that Stiffler had the right to defend himself since Johnson had forced his way into the home.

The jury began their deliberations at 3:50 Wednesday afternoon and will continue today.

If convicted Stiffler faces life in prison or a term of between 10 to 100 years.


Reporter: Alana Cunningham