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Montana Supreme Court reverses conviction in 1999 homicide

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By Amy Beth Hanson

HELENA — A split Montana Supreme Court has reversed a man’s conviction for the July 1999 drowning of his wife in southeastern Montana.

Former Colorado attorney and fly-fishing guide Brian David Laird appealed his 2016 conviction for killing Kathryn Laird, for which he received a 100-year sentence.

Four of the seven justices agreed Tuesday that the trial judge wrongly allowed an FBI agent to testify that a medical examiner said marks on Kathryn Laird’s neck were “troubling.” The medical examiner died before the trial.

Two of those four justices agreed with Laird that the judge should have dismissed the case due to a lack of evidence.

Three justices said they would have upheld the conviction.

The case was referred back to District Court in Bighorn County. Laird’s attorney did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

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