GREAT FALLS – The trial for William Arocha, Jr., the man accused of stabbing Shane LaPlant to death, began on Monday at the Missouri River Federal Courthouse.
Arocha, Jr. faces a second-degree murder charge for the July 5, 2017 stabbing in East Glacier.
According to the prosecution, the events that took place on the morning of July 5 were unnecessary and unjust. The defense, however, said the events were a case for self-defense.
Casey James, a friend of the Arocha family, said he was working the bar that night for the wedding of William Arocha, Sr. and Summer Toby.
At about 2 or 3 a.m., James testified that he saw a group of people dragging someone into a field down the road from where the wedding was being held.
James said he ran down the road and tried to pull people off of LaPlant. He continued that at one point, Arocha, Jr. turned towards him with a knife and he backed off.
Arocha, Sr. and Toby both testified that LaPlant was not invited to the wedding and they thought he was taking alcohol although no one saw LaPlant take anything from the area of where the wedding reception was held.
Arocha, Sr. and Toby said LaPlant was driving an ATV erratically and, at one point, he dragged Arocha, Sr. when his clothes got stuck in the vehicle.
Toby testified that she did not witness the fight, but Arocha, Sr. said he tried to break the fight up and his clothes were covered in blood.
Two officers who arrived on scene testified that LaPlant was covered in blood.
One officer said she started counting the stab wounds but could not keep track after 10.
Arocha, Jr. was found guilty of assault resulting in bodily injury and negligent endangerment in Blackfeet Tribal Court last October.
The trail will continue on Tuesday.
Reporting by Margaret DeMarco for MTN News
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