Gregg Trude, a Helena man who pleaded guilty to negligent homicide last October, has been granted a hearing by the Montana Supreme Court to determine if the judge that presided over the trial should be disqualified.
On Wednesday, Acting Chief Justice James Shea of the Montana Supreme Court requested the assistance of retired District Judge Ed McLean to hear the disqualification proceeding.
Trude, 63, was sentenced to 20 years in prison with all but 3 ½ years suspended for the 2018 shooting death of 48-year-old Dr. Eugene “Buzz” Walton. Walton had once been a trainer at both Rocky Mountain College and Montana State University Billings.
Lewis and Clark County District Court Judge Mike McMahon presided over the case.
Trude has alleged McMahon was biased in the case because of the judge’s personal relationship with Walton.
In October 2018, Trude and Walton were at the former Kmart parking lot in Helena, after returning from a hunting trip. Walton was pulling his rifle out of the back seat 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.
Trude, who spent several years as a hunting safety instructor, admitted at trial that he had been negligent to put his gun into his truck with a live round in the chamber, and that his actions had led to Walton’s death.
A date for the disqualification hearing has not been set as of Jan. 8, 2020.
Trude is currently serving his prison sentence at the Cascade County Regional Prison in Great Falls.