- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 6, 2017

RED LODGE, Mont. (AP) - A man with a criminal record used his ailing brother-in-law’s gun to kill his wife, her sister and his brother-in-law before fleeing the state, Montana prosecutors said during opening statements in Robert James LeCou’s deliberate homicide trial.

“The evidence will show that Lloyd’s 9 mm handgun, even though we don’t have it to show you, was what shot and killed Lloyd, Sharon and Karen,” Assistant Attorney General Guzynski told a Carbon County jury on Monday.

Defense attorney Edward Werner said that LeCou, 40, was not guilty and that investigators left many questions unanswered in the April 2016 deaths of Karen Hill-LeCou, Sharon Hill-Lamb and Lloyd Lamb in Belfry, just north of the Wyoming border.

Investigators didn’t find Lamb’s gun, Guyzinski said, but the gun’s case was found in a recreational vehicle LeCou had been living in at Lamb’s house. LeCou and his wife had moved to Belfry to help his wife’s sister care for her husband, court records said.

Prosecutors did not reveal a possible motive for the shootings in opening statements, The Billings Gazette (https://bit.ly/2rRbGef) reports. However, they noted that LeCou had accompanied Hill-LeCou to a Billings store where she purchased 9 mm ammunition weeks before the killings.

LeCou couldn’t own firearms because he had been convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in the 1999 beating death of a homeless man in Fort Worth, Texas. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and was released in 2009.

Hill-Lamb, 72, was shot four times in the face. Lamb, 76, was shot to death in his bed and Hill-LeCou, 54, was found shot to death in the bathroom, prosecutors said.

LeCou was arrested days later in Washington state.

Werner told jurors that LeCou had traveled to Washington to fix up his parents’ house and characterized the state’s case against his client as being “based merely off hunches, easy first impressions and conclusions that don’t have a real basis.”

Prosecutors said they expected to call about 30 witnesses. The trial could extend into next week.

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Information from: The Billings Gazette, https://www.billingsgazette.com

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