HELENA- A pair of alleged drug dealers involved in a fatal January shooting in Helena pleaded guilty to federal drug charges.
Federal court documents say Travis Holly Stephens pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime this week.
Also this week, Brandon LeClair plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute meth and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Federal prosecutors say LeClair had been dealing meth for Stephens between October and December of 2016.
The pair traveled to Helena from Butte on January 24th to conduct an alleged drug deal.
Early the next morning a fight broke out in a room at the Helena Motel 6 between LeClair and Kenneth Purcell Jr. The fight ended in the motel parking lot with Purcell shot dead.
LeClair was arrested later that day in Boulder.
LeClair was originally charged with deliberate homicide in Lewis and Clark County. Those charges were dismissed earlier this year in favor of federal charges.
County Attorney Leo Gallagher told the News Station the homicide charge was dropped in cooperation with federal prosecutors. He says Montana law prohibits the state from prosecuting a suspect if that individual has a drug transaction conviction in another jurisdiction.
Gallagher also said the federal charges have a greater guarantee of prison time.
LeClair has prior federal convictions for possession of meth and felon in possession of a firearm.
LeClair faces a maximum of 40 years in prison and a fine of $5 million on the distribution charge and ten-years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for possession of a firearm.
Stephens faces a mandatory minimum 5-year prison term and a $250,000 fine on her firearms charge.
Both are scheduled to be sentenced in Helena federal court in January.