- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

DEER LODGE, Mont. (AP) - The Montana Board of Pardons and Parole denied parole Wednesday to a man who shot and killed two Montana State University students in May 1990.

Brett Byers, 44, appeared before board members Darryl Dupuis and Mary Kay Puckett at the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle (https://bit.ly/1Vrob4n ) reported.

Byers, who is from Great Falls, was convicted in 1991 of deliberate homicide in the deaths of Brian Boeder and James Clevenger and was sentenced to 165 years in prison. The victims were 19-year-old freshmen. Boeder was a physical education major from Plymouth, Minnesota, and Clevenger was a general studies student from Billings.

Prosecutors argued Byers woke the men up at 2:20 a.m. and shot them because he believed Boeder had vandalized his truck.

Byers’ attorney, Wendy Holton, said Wednesday that Byers is no longer the immature, troubled young man he was when he killed Boeder and Clevenger.

Holton described Byers as “a mature, hard-working, devout man who will be a positive part of his community.” He has completed anger management, chemical dependency treatment and other programs and is a skilled carpenter and welder, she said.

Byers requested to be placed as a long-term inmate worker at a pre-release center. Such workers are not allowed to leave the center without staff supervision.

“I believe after the amount of time I’ve done, close supervision would be the best possible scenario,” Byers said. He wanted “to prove to the board that it wouldn’t be a bad decision” to release him into the community.

Gallatin County District Court Judge Mike Salvagni, who prosecuted the case, wrote to the parole board asking that they keep Byers in prison.

“It would make a mockery of our criminal justice system for a person who brutally murdered two innocent young men in the prime of their lives to be released into the community after serving only 25 years in prison,” Salvagni wrote.

Dupuis and Puckett agreed with Salvagni.

“Twenty five years, in my opinion, is not long enough,” Puckett said, although she did say Byers was on the right track with the programs he has completed and the work he is doing.

“How much time is enough time for two lives?” Dupuis asked. “I can’t answer that, but I know it’s not enough time at this time.”

Byers can be evaluated for parole again in five years.

___

Information from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com

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