TOWNSEND – A California man was sentenced Friday to life in prison without parole for his role in the death of a Montana sheriff’s deputy, who prosecutors said was shot by the defendant’s son after being provoked into a high-speed chase.
District Judge Kathy Seeley sentenced Lloyd Barrus to three life terms to be served concurrently after he was found guilty by a jury of accountability to deliberate homicide in the May 2017 death of Broadwater County Deputy Mason Moore.
Barrus, 66, also was found responsible on two counts of attempted deliberate homicide for shots fired by his son at other law enforcement officers’ vehicles.
Marshall Barrus, 38, was fatally injured in a shootout with officers after a pursuit that ended east of Missoula.
“I don’t know that there was a plan per se, but these two men with their extremist anti-government beliefs were both out of control,” Seeley said.
“I do not believe if he is out in the streets that the public will be safe,” she added.
Defense attorneys had argued that Barrus should remain at the Montana State Hospital because he suffers from delusional disorders and could not appreciate the criminality of his actions at the time, The Montana Standard reported.
During the three-week trial in Butte, prosecutors said Lloyd and Marshall Barrus had talked about going on a “suicide mission” before passing Moore’s vehicle traveling 100 mph south of Townsend early on May 16, 2017, with the intention of drawing a pursuit.
Prosecutors said Lloyd Barrus was driving and Marshall Barrus fired a shot that struck Moore, 42, in the face. Moore’s car stopped and his in-car camera captured sounds of him struggling to breathe when a vehicle drove up and the occupants fired more shots, prosecutors said.
The trial was delayed as prosecutors initially sought the death penalty against Lloyd Barrus before he was found unfit to stand trial. Seeley ordered that Barrus be given antipsychotic medications via injection because he refused to take medication to treat his delusional disorder. The Montana Supreme Court upheld the forced medication order in January 2020.
Barrus, whose last known address before his arrest was Bakersfield, California, was involved in a shootout with law enforcement officers in Nevada and California in March 2000.
Barrus, his son Jeffrey Barrus and a woman were arrested in California after fleeing from a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper and shooting at officers during a 70-mile chase. Their vehicle broke down in the Furnace Creek area and they hid in a gully, starting an 18-hour standoff in Death Valley.
They reportedly shot a California Highway Patrol helicopter, forcing it to land. No one was injured.