- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 7, 2017

RED LODGE, Mont. (AP) - Witnesses at a triple homicide trial in Montana said they heard a handful of gunshots on the night of the killings but weren’t alarmed.

Naomi Black and Jason Olson testified Tuesday during the trial of Robert James LeCou in the deaths of his wife, her sister and his brother-in-law, The Billings Gazette reported (http://bit.ly/2qWAqyi ).

Prosecutors have not provided a motive for the killings in Belfry, an agricultural community near the Wyoming border.

Black said she heard as many as four shots while Olson, a school superintendent, said he heard as many as six gunshots on April 5, 2016.

However, both acknowledged it was common for people to shoot at skunks that wander the area.

LeCou, 40, was arrested three days after the shootings in Washington state. He told investigators that a stranger must have broken in to the house and shot the victims, court records said.

The victims’ bodies weren’t discovered until neighbor Gary Hill called 911 on April 7 after noticing their television set had been in standby mode for more than a day. He told a dispatcher that he thought his neighbors were dead and he suspected LeCou was responsible.

Karen Hill-LeCou, 54; Sharon Hill-Lamb, 72; and Lloyd Lamb, 76, had suffered a total of up to 19 gunshot wounds.

The neighbor’s wife, Patricia Hill, testified that she saw LeCou drive away in his wife’s pickup truck on April 5.

LeCou and his wife had moved in with the older couple about six months earlier to help care for Lamb, prosecutors said. LeCou is accused of used his ailing brother-in-law’s gun to commit the killings.

Investigators didn’t find Lamb’s gun but say the case was found in a recreational vehicle LeCou had been living in at Lamb’s house.

LeCou was paroled from a Texas prison in 2009 after serving a 10-year sentence for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

He and others were charged in the 1999 baseball bat beating death of a homeless man.

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

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