RED LODGE – The jury found Robert “Jim” LeCou guilty of all three counts of deliberate homicide on Monday.
His sentencing is set for Aug. 16.
In closing arguments at trial for the man accused of killing three people in Belfry last year, prosecutors told jurors that the defendant was trying to fool them into believing he had a perfect marriage.
LeCou, 40, was accused of killing his wife, Karen LeCou, her sister, Sharon Lamb, and her brother-in-law Lloyd Lamb.
The trial took place in Carbon County District Court.
Defense attorneys said in closing arguments that LeCou loved his wife and that they never argued.
“You look in Karen’s phone, she’s got him stored as “Babe”,” said Clark Matthews.
But Carbon County District Attorney Alex Nixon argued that the relationship between the LeCou couple had been strained because of the family’s missing dog.
Assistant Attorney General Dan Guzynski noted that a motive for the murders is not obvious.
“When it comes to a motive, when do you ever watch the news and go ‘that’s a really good motive, that’s a good reason to gun someone down?’” said Guzynski. “Sometimes there isn’t a good reason.”
Clark Matthews, the defense attorney, said detectives immediately placed the blame on LeCou before even starting the investigation.
“Jim has consistently told you he doesn’t know what happened because he wasn’t there,” said Matthews. “That’s why he immediately became the suspect. (Authorities) knew there was a fourth resident and knew this was their suspect before they even knew his name.”
But Nixon said the evidence – the receipts from various gas stations, surveillance footage from Belfry bars, and witness observations – clearly points to LeCou.
“We may never know why this happened,” said Nixon. “There’s really no good reason for why this happened. But how dare (LeCou) call himself a victim.”
Prior to closing arguments, the defense called a single witness to testify.
Kristi Lelm, a former resident of Belfry, testified that on the night of the murders, she heard an argument between two women and a man at the victims’ home.
Following Lelm’s brief testimony, the defense rested its case without the testimony of LeCou.
Guzynski said in his closing arguments that the most damning piece of evidence in the case was that LeCou had the 9 mm pistol that was known to the rest of the family to be missing.
LeCou had told investigators in a recorded interview that he had found the weapon and used it to do target practice with his wife.
In claiming his innocence, LeCou had explained that he was not in Belfry when the murders occurred, but rather he was at his mother’s home in Spokane preparing for a job to break down a shed.
“It appeared he would do whatever it took – driving after drinking alcohol, driving with a suspended license – whatever it took to get to his mom’s house,” said Guzynski.
Guzynski also noted that in a recorded phone call from jail, LeCou told his brother: “That ain’t got nothing on me.”
Defense attorneys called the phone call a “cheap shot.”
The victims were shot a combined 17 times, according to the autopsy report.
“Those shots to the face, those four shots to the face of Lloyd, four shots to the face of Sharon, shots to the back, that’s evidence in this case,” said Guzynski. “What time of person does that? Who would do this? A mere stranger? A disinterested stranger? Or someone that knew them?”
Guzynski held up the various bags of evidence containing the different bullets fired at the victims.
“Each of these is a separate decision,” said Guzynski.
The jury was sent to deliberate around 3:30 p.m.
MTN’s Aja Goare