MISSOULA – The trial for a defendant accused of killing two men in Frenchtown began in a Missoula courtroom on Tuesday.
The question the defense is asking is: was this really a murder or did two missing men intentionally vanish? That’s one of the issues jurors will have to decide in this bizarre case.
Jury selection for the case against Caressa Hardy, also identified in court documents as Glenn Dibley, finished up on Monday leaving Tuesday for the prosecution and defense to make their opening statements.
Hardy is accused of killing two roommates in 2013 and then attempting to dispose of their bodies in rural Frenchtown.
The State argues that while it does not have a perfect case, it believes all the evidence it will present at the trial will lead to Hardy’s conviction.
“The witnesses, in this case, will testify, you’ll get to listen to them. Each of them will lay out bricks. These bricks are sealed together with the mortar of forensics,” Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst told the court.
“These bricks together make a path that leads right to that chair where that man will sit during the course of this trial. A chair that he earned with a violent distinction,” she added.
But Hardy’s defense team argues that the two victims Thomas Korjack and Robert Orozco aren’t actually dead: they’ve just run away.
They argue Korjack had attempted to flee the country for tax evasion once before and was trying to do it again while Orozco was tagging along to skip out on unpaid child support.
“Not one, but two individuals, were not reported missing for over three years in 2015. Now Mr. Orozco did not have the same education or the money that Mr. Korjack did — but they were close they were friends they lived together for years,” defense counsel Britt Cotter said Tuesday.
“And like Mr. Korjack Mr. Orozco played this game of cat and mouse where he tried to stay off paper. He used false names trying to avoid detection,” he added.
The only witness to the alleged murders — the woman who had three children with the defendant — was also in court to testify.
After struggling to get through the emotional testimony she eventually described what she says was the murder scene.
She was asked, “do you remember saying anything to him at this time the defendant?”
“Yeah, I remember saying ‘are they dead? Did he kill them’?” she testified.
When asked if “the defendant saying anything to you?” She responded: “I can’t remember. I just told him please don’t kill me. Please don’t hurt or kill the babies — the children.”
The witness’s testimony seemed especially painful for her as she recalled the incident. Judge James Wheelis had to allow her two different breaks so she could exit the courtroom and regain her composure.
We will continue to follow this trial over the next two weeks.
Reporting by Connor McCauley for MTN News