- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 27, 2016

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - A man charged with killing three people in a tiny Montana town pleaded not guilty to three counts of deliberate homicide during a Wednesday court appearance.

Robert James LeCou, 39, is accused of fatally shooting his wife, her sister and a brother-in-law on April 5 in Belfry, an agricultural community of 200 people located just north of the Wyoming border.

State District Judge Blair Jones set a $3 million bond for LeCou before returning him to custody, Clerk of District Court Rochelle Loyning said.

A trial will be scheduled at a later date, Loyning said.

LeCou’s lawyer, public defender Gregory Paskell, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

LeCou is being held at the Gallatin County Detention Center.

He’s also charged with tampering with evidence in the case, after authorities said he tried to conceal his actions by throwing into a dumpster some shell casings from a gun allegedly used in the shootings and paper towels that appeared to be covered with blood.

He was arrested three days after the shooting in Washington state, where he had fled to his mother’s house in the community of Nine Mile Falls, according to court documents.

After his arrest, LeCou told investigators that a stranger must have broken into the house he shared with the victims and shot them, according to court documents.

LeCou has an extensive criminal history, including a conviction for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for the 1999 beating death of a homeless man in Fort Worth, Texas. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in that case and released on parole in 2009.

LeCou arrived in Belfry roughly six months ago to help care for one of the victims, a 76-year-old man who used a walker or wheelchair, according to several neighbors. The other victims were Sharon Hill-Lamb, 72, and LeCour’s wife, Karen, 54.

Authorities have not speculated on a motive in the slayings.

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