HELENA – A Lewis and Clark County jury found Kaleb Daniels guilty of attempted deliberate homicide.
Closing arguments were heard Wednesday afternoon at the Lewis and Clark County District Courthouse before the jury reached their verdict.
Daniels broke into in cabin in the Wolf Creek area on Dec. 28 of last year.
Lewis and Clark County Attorney Leo Gallagher reviewed the case against Daniels for the jury Wednesday.
Gallagher said evidence put Daniels in the cabin on the day of the crime. He said the SUV Daniels was riding in contained two guns, binoculars, a meth pipe and heavy duty bolt cutters. He said Daniels was there that day to grab whatever he wanted.
The County Attorney told the jury that five shell casings from a .25 caliber pistol were found at the corner of the Buus cabin where Daniels exchanged shots with cabin owner, Marshall Buus Two .25 caliber bullets found in the snow behind Buus.
Daniels then fled the area on foot to Wolf Creek.
Gallagher said Daniels intended to kill Buus when he pointed a gun in Buus’ face.
During the three-day trial, Buus testified that he came across Daniels and other man leaving the cabin.
Buus said when he confronted Daniels, Daniels pointed a pistol at his face at close range and pulled the trigger. The gun did not fire.
“He used a gun to try and take the life of Mr. Buus,” said Gallagher.
Buus fired several shots from his own weapon, wounding the other suspect.
Defense attorney Steven Scott asked the jury to convict his client of burglary since he was there that day at the Buus cabin.
“You should find him guilty of burglary, and I’m Kaleb’s lawyer,” said Scott. “But not guilty of Attempted Deliberate Homicide, or Tampering with Evidence. He didn’t have a gun.”
The prosecutor in the case said Daniels disposed of the gun somewhere in the 10 miles between the Buus cabin and Wolf Creek where he was arrested some two hours later. The weapon was never recovered.
Scott also criticized the fact that Daniels was not tested for gunshot residue following his arrest. He said the Prosecution’s case, “just doesn’t make sense.”
“Kaleb is a burglar. Kaleb is not a murderer,” said Scott.
The eight man, four woman jury deliberated for about an hour before returning their verdict. The jury also found Daniels guilty of aggravated burglary and tampering with evidence. All three convictions are felonies.
Despite Daniels’ request, he is being held without bond. He will be sentenced on Sept. 13. The maximum sentence for the Attempted Deliberate Homicide charge is 100-years to life in prison.