By Joseph T. O’Connor EBS Editor-in-Chief
BIG SKY – A local resident this morning appeared in Gallatin County Justice Court to a charge stemming from a Saturday night altercation involving a knife that left one person hospitalized with severe injuries, according to legal documents obtained by EBS.
Joseph Fairchild, 20 of Big Sky, was arrested yesterday and charged with attempted deliberate homicide, an offense that carries a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of 100 years. The charge stemmed from Fairfield allegedly causing the victim injuries to “vital areas which nearly resulted in his death,” according to an affidavit filed by the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office.
The victim, whose name has not officially been released, is in “stable but guarded condition” at Bozeman Deaconess Health Hospital, according to Gallatin County Sheriff Dan Springer.
“He’s doing well enough to meet with the investigators which is a good sign,” Springer told EBS.
Saturday’s incident stemmed from a fight at a house party between Fairchild and his roommate that intensified when they returned to their Firelight Meadows condominium “heavily intoxicated,” according to the affidavit. After arriving at the Firelight rental unit, the altercation resumed and escalated when Fairchild said the victim charged him with a knife from the kitchen.
Fairchild told Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office investigators that the roommates struggled over the knife and that Fairchild eventually put the victim in a chokehold until he lost consciousness. Fairchild then said he went to bed and woke up in the morning to discover the victim on the floor with a large laceration to his shoulder.
After attempting and failing to get the victim into his car to drive him to the hospital, Fairchild called 911 at approximately 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, indicating that he and the victim had been involved in a fight the previous evening.
The victim was taken to Big Sky Medical Center then flown to Deaconess Hospital in Bozeman where he underwent surgery for “severe penetrating trauma injuries to his shoulder, neck and torso,” according to the affidavit.
With significant growth in Gallatin County in recent years, Springer said deputies have seen an uptick in dispatch call volumes, a trend consistent with growing communities across the country.
“We see the same thing that every other city sees, it’s just [in] different proportions,” he said. “Most of the time it’s rare to have incidents that are stranger on stranger. It’s usually some kind of relationship involved with friends, acquaintances, or in this particular case, roommates.”
Investigators observed large amounts of blood throughout the condo and based on evidence at the scene, the affidavit said, along with statements from parties involved and a lack of significant injuries to Fairchild, investigators arrested Fairchild. He was transported to the Gallatin County Detention Center where he was held without bond until his initial appearance in Justice Court this morning when a judge set bond at $250,000. Fairfield will next appear in Gallatin County District Court.
“We are in overall a very safe community [but] we continue to see our share of felony crimes,” Springer said. “Never be afraid to call the sheriff’s office prior to these events escalating. We’re happy to come out there and determine if it’s something that we should be intervening in or not.”