Courtroom number one was packed with reporters on Thursday for the appearance via video from the Missoula County Jail of accused murderer Jonathan Bertsch.

However no court business was done because his public defender did not appear at the omnibus hearing, which means several legal issues were to be worked out between the prosecution, the defense and the District Court.

Judge Shane Vannatta called on Bertsch the first time and saw that his public defender Jennifer Streano was not yet in the courtroom, so he asked Bertsch to step aside while he saw other defendants appearing from the jail. Several minutes later, he called Bertsch a second time, and when his attorney still had not appeared, he delayed the appearance to a later date.

Bertsch asked Judge Vannatta if his father could assist in his court appearances, however Judge Vannatta said Bertsch must take that matter up with his attorney.

Bertsch is being held for the shooting death on March 14th and 15th of Shelly Hayes, and for critically wounding Casey Blanchard and his mother Julie, who later died as a result of her wounds.

Bertsch is then accused of ambushing Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Wade Palmer and critically wounding him three times in the head and neck while he was in his patrol vehicle.

Palmer was taken to St. Patrick Hospital and then transported to Salt Lake City for treatment. Palmer and Casey Blanchard were both treated in Salt Lake City for several months before eventually returning to their homes in the Bitterroot Valley.

Blanchard, who suffered the death of his mother from her gunshot wounds, recently returned to work even though the shootings left him a paraplegic.

Bertsch was remanded back to the jail for his next court appearance.

His $2 million bail was continued.


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