Gregg Trude, who pleaded guilty several weeks ago< /span> in the death of Eugene “Buzz” Walton, was sentenced on Wednesday.
Lewis & Clark County District Judge Mike McMahon sentenced Trude to a term of 20 years in prison. Trude will serve three and a half years behind bars, and the remainder of the 20-year sentence was suspended.
Trude pleaded guilty to one count of negligent homicide during his trial in September.
Trude was on trial for the shooting death of Walton. In October of 2018, the two men were at the former Kmart parking lot in Helena after returning from a hunting trip. Walton was pulling his rifle out of the back of Trude’s truck, when Trude’s rifle went off. Walton was struck near the top of his thigh. First responders gave him medical assistance, but he did not survive.< /p>
Walton and Trude's family, as well as Trude himself, testified at the Wednesday sentencing.
Trude, who spent several years as a hunter education instructor, admitted he had been negligent to put his gun into his truck with a live round in the chamber. In pleading guilty, Trude told the judge he agreed that his actions had led to Walton’s death.
At trial, Trude was found not guilty of a second charge of tampering with evidence.
Trude previously ran for Montana House District 75 where he was defeated in the June 2018 primary. On his LinkedIn page he listed himself as an NRA rifle and handgun instructor and a member of the National Right to Life board of directors.
Walton had once served as a trainer as both Rocky Mountain College and Montana State University-Billings.