- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 16, 2020

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A Helena man entered a guilty plea Wednesday to deliberate homicide for killing a man during an argument over a drug deal in June 2019.

Thomas Ralph Bristow entered an Alford plea, in which he maintains his innocence but acknowledges the prosecution has enough evidence to gain a conviction. It is treated like a guilty plea for sentencing purposes.

Bristow was charged with shooting Cory Leo Housel, 31, in the head on June 30, 2019 and then dumping his body in a rural area east of Canyon Ferry Lake. Housel’s body was discovered three days later.

Two witnesses said the shooting happened while they were trying to by meth from Bristow and he “ripped them off.”

Evidence tampering and drug charges filed against Bristow were dismissed as part of the plea agreement, which allows Bristow to withdraw his plea if his sentence contains any parole restrictions, the Independent Record newspaper reported. Bristow is scheduled to be sentenced late November.

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