MISSOULA – It took only six hours for a Missoula jury to return guilty verdicts on Thursday for the suspect in a double murder in Frenchtown.
The case started back in 2016 when Karen Hardy walked into a Glendive Police Department to report a double homicide she witnessed years earlier — two murders she says were committed by the father of her children.
Contentious posturing from both sides of the case dominated the two-week trial but at the end of the day it all came down to one person’s testimony to convict Caressa Hardy of four felony counts.
Following nine days of jury selection, witness testimony, numerous in chamber conferences and plenty of drama, the jury in the Caressa Hardy trial ruled the defendant guilty on all four counts.
“We the Jury enter the following unanimous verdict. To the charge of deliberate homicide, count one, guilty. To the charge of deliberate homicide, count two, guilty. To the charge of solicitation to commit deliberate homicide, count three, guilty. To the charge of solicitation to commit deliberate homicide, count four, guilty. Dated the 16th day of May 2019.”
The defense and prosecution gave their final statements to the jury before they went into deliberation around 11 a.m. on Thursday.
Karen Hardy’s witness testimony was the key piece of evidence to the case and while the defense questioned its authenticity Missoula County Deputy Attorney Brian Lowney said that the proof is in the corroboration.
“You saw her testimony, did it seem made up to you? And further asks yourself what she ever said about the murders that wasn’t corroborated by the rest of the investigation think about that for a second. What did she ever say about the murders that wasn’t corroborated by the investigation?”
Defense counsel Britt Cotter argued that law enforcement did not conduct their investigation properly which calls into question anything produced from.
“Officers should not hide the ball. And if they are doing that, you should question everything that they say. But one question is: How do the police — who have a full-blown FBI search team — how do they miss four cellphones? And what else did they miss or what else did they selective pick out?”
Hardy was quickly remanded back to the custody of the Missoula County Detention Center following the verdict and now awaits sentencing which has not yet been scheduled.
This had the feeling of a knock down drag out kind of trial with the main theme being drama.
The key witness Karen Hardy struggled to hold in her emotions as she testified in front of the killer.
One witness claimed that the Missoula County attorneys was not telling the truth and after an outburst in the middle of his testimony was told he would be in contempt of court if he continued.
But after all the drama, it only took six hours of deliberation from the jury behind closed doors to decide this case.
This high profile trial could be the last for Judge James Wheelis who was called out of retirement to take the bench for possibly the last time.
Reporting by Connor McCauley for MTN News