RED LODGE – The man accused in last year’s triple slaying of a Belfry family used one of the victim’s gun and had another victim purchase the ammunition, said Carbon County prosecutors at the suspect’s trial on Monday.
Robert “Jim” LeCou, 40, is charged with three counts of deliberate homicide for the murders of Karen LeCou, Sharon Lamb, and Lloyd Lamb in April of 2016.
LeCou claimed he was not at the home when the murders took place adding that he left Montana earlier in the day to visit his mother in Spokane.
LeCou’s attorneys described him as a victim, saying he lost his wife and relatives in the murder.
Prosecutors have not identified a motive for the killings.
Jurors were shown graphic images of the victims, who each died from multiple gunshot wounds to the face and body.
“Sharon was laying on the couch where she watched TV every night, she never had a chance,” said Assistant Attorney General Dan Guzynski. “Karen was running away and then shot in the back. Lloyd wasn’t even able to get out of bed at this time in his life. He was shot in the face.”
Prosecutors told jurors that about a dozen shots were fired at the unsuspecting victims.
“Sharon was shot four times in the face,” said Guzynski. “This was personal.”
LeCou had moved to the residence in Belfry with his wife in 2015, to help take care of Lloyd Lamb, whose health was quickly declining.
Guzynski said that by accepting LeCou into her home, Sharon Lamb unknowingly sealed her fate.
Lloyd Lamb’s son testified that his father was in such poor condition that he often made comments about ending his own life.
The family became concerned and moved all the guns out of the house, but they couldn’t find Lloyd Lamb’s favorite gun, which was a 9mm handgun he’d purchased when he was in the military.
When the bodies were found two days after the murder, authorities collected 9mm shell casings from the scene.
Investigators reviewed surveillance footage from the Cabella’s in Billings that showed the LeCou couple shopping for those very bullets. Karen LeCou paid for the bullets, according to prosecutors.
LeCou’s license was suspended at the time so he rode a bicycle.
But on the day of the murders, neighbors of the victims reported seeing LeCou leave the house in his wife’s truck.
The truck was Karen LeCou’s prized possession, according to prosecutors, and she never let anyone else drive it.
LeCou claimed he left the home around noon on April 5.
“He said he kissed his wife goodbye and left town,” said Guzynksi. “But she didn’t even clock out from work until 3:15 p.m.”
Surveillance footage from Belfry bars and neighboring Montana town gas stations showed LeCou was still in the area much later in the day.
Prosecutors also told jurors that LeCou’s cell phone was connecting to, a tower in Montana at 6:25 p.m. the night of the murders.
When neighbors noticed the family had not left the home for two days and saw that the TV in their home was on standby the entire time, they became concerned and called authorities to request a welfare check.
That’s when authorities arrived and found the bodies.
Defense attorneys argued that detectives did not properly collect evidence and that there are major gaps in the time-line.
“It’s sad but if your family dies and you live, you become the number one suspect,” said Edward Werner.
Werner argued in his opening statement that LeCou is being blamed because authorities don’t know who committed the murders.
Defense attorneys have not said whether LeCou will testify, though they hinted during jury selection that he might not.
Nearly all the jurors said they had read and watched news reports on the murder, but said they believed they could be impartial.
Three jurors were excused after noting they took issue with LeCou’s criminal record, which includes an earlier conviction related to the beating death of a homeless man.
The trial is expected to last eight days.
MTN’s Aja Goare