Alleged Killer Pleads Not Guilty – Road Rage Fueled the Attack
Jonathan Bertsch, the man accused of shooting one man to death and gravely wounding three others on March 14, including a Montana Highway Patrol Trooper, was arraigned in Missoula District Court on Thursday, and appeared via video from the Missoula County Jail.
District Judge John Larson addressed Bertsch.
“For count one, deliberate homicide, a felony, what do you plead,” asked Judge Larson.
“Not guilty,” replied Bertsch.
“For count two, attempted deliberate homicide, how do you plead?”
“Not guilty,” said Bertsch.
“For count three, attempted deliberate homicide, how do you plead?”
“Count four, attempted deliberate homicide, how do you plead?”
An omnibus hearing has tentatively been set for May 30 before Judge Larson.
As in Bertsch's first appearance, numerous Highway Patrol and other law enforcement personnel attended the hearing.
Following the hearing, Chief Deputy Missoula County Attorney Jason Marks explained the procedure.
“Jonathan Bertsch appeared in front of Judge Larson this morning and he entered not guilty pleas to all four charges against him,” said Marks. “He is charged with one count of deliberate homicide and three counts of attempted deliberate homicide.”
New facts revealed in court documents released on Thursday show that the initial cause of the shooting spree was road rage.
Court documents state ‘A review of the surveillance video from Marvin's Tavern showed Jonathan enter the bar and speak to his father and showed Julie come to the bar to pick up Casey and Shelley.
Julie, Casey, and Shelley left the bar and got into Casey's red pickup truck with Julie driving. Jonathan left the bar and got into his white Escalade.
Before leaving the parking lot, the red pickup driven by Julie briefly stopped and emitted an extremely large and dense cloud of diesel exhaust. After the cloud of diesel exhaust enveloped the vehicle driven by Jonathan, he abruptly pulled out and followed the pickup.’
Following that incident, Jonathan Bertsch allegedly shot and killed Shelley Hayes and then shot Julie and Casey multiple times which was captured on surveillance video from Lithia Motors.
He then fled the scene and just after midnight, Bertsch allegedly shot Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Wade Palmer three times in the head and neck while Palmer was buckled into his patrol car.
Bertsch was apprehended later that morning by a deputy with the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office and court documents state that at that time, he confessed to the shootings.
Bertsch’s bail was continued at $2 million.