32 year-old Staryal Dedrick Johnston appeared in Missoula Justice Court on Friday before a full gallery in the courtroom charged with deliberate homicide for allegedly strangling his wife in front of their children.

Judge Landee Holloway addressed Johnston via ZOOM while he appeared from the Missoula County Jail wearing a garment designed to keep him from harming himself.

“You are appearing before the court today because the County Attorney's office has filed a complaint charging you with one count of deliberate homicide, a felony punishable by life imprisonment, or not less than 10 or more than 100 years at Montana State Prison,” said Judge Holloway. “It's alleged that on or about September 2, 2021 the defendant purposely or knowingly caused the death of Jane Doe. Do you understand what you've been charged with and what the possible penalties could be?”

“Yes,” replied Johnston.

Deputy County Attorney Brian Lowney spoke for the prosecution.

“The state is asking for the court set a $ one million dollar bail here, and that's largely based on the nature of this offense but also the effects of the offense, as the court can see from the affidavit,” said Lowney. “This involves Mr. Johnston committing a brutal murder of his partner with a ligature strangulation.”

Lowney also added mitigating factors in his bail argument.

“Additionally, this crime was committed in front of his children, and I worry to think about how law enforcement might have become aware of this were it not for the bravery of the 11 year old child that was in the house, and so the state feels that Mr. Johnston is simply too dangerous to remain in the community.”

Judge Holloway agreed with the prosecution’s assessment.

“The court will set bond in the amount of $1 million dollars,” she said. Conditions of your release, Mr. Johnston are that you obey all laws; you must appear at your scheduled court appearances. You must remain in the state of Montana. You're not to have any contact with the victims or prosecution witnesses including your children. Your next court appearance will be on September 13 at 9:00 a.m. up in District Court.”

Johnston was led away and remanded to the Missoula County Jail.


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