In an unexpected turn, Gregg Trude pleaded guilty to one charge of negligent homicide on Wednesday.
It was the second day of the trial for the shooting death of Dr. Eugene "Buzz" Walton. This is a bench trial, meaning there is no jury, and Judge Mike McMahon was set to make the final decision.
Trude and Walton, a former university athletic trainer in Billings, were returning from a hunting trip last October. When Walton was trying to pull his rifle out of Trude’s truck, Trude’s rifle went off.< /p>
Wednesday, Lewis and Clark County Attorney Leo Gallagher argued Trude was negligent, because he left his gun with a round in the chamber while transporting it.
After the prosecution rested their case this morning , defense attorney Greg Jackson asked the judge to rule immediately in Trude’s favor.
He argued the state hadn’t proven any specific “standard of care” that Trude failed to meet.
But Judge Mike McMahon denied the motion, saying there was enough evidence to move forward with the trial.
The guilty plea came after an afternoon recess. The trial continues for the 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.