Billings man denies charges in fatal Christmas shooting

2013-01-24T14:26:00Z 2013-02-21T12:41:04Z Billings man denies charges in fatal Christmas shootingBy GREG TUTTLE gtuttle@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

A Billings man accused of gunning down his girlfriend's lover early Christmas morning was arraigned Thursday in Yellowstone County District Court.

David Bruce Isaacson, 41, is charged with deliberate homicide and three counts of felony tampering for the Dec. 25 shooting death of Sabah Mallak.

Isaacson pleaded not guilty to the charges in an arraignment by video from the county jail.    

Deputy County Attorney Ed Zink asked Judge Susan Watters to increase Isaacson's bond from $200,000 to $300,000. Zink said the investigation has revealed more information since Isaacson's first court appearance two days after the shooting, including a statement by his girlfriend that Isaacson had smoked methamphetamine shortly before the shooting.

According to new charging documents filed Thursday, the girlfriend, Daniel Calhoun, also told police she was in a romantic relationship with Mallak. After the family got home Christmas Eve from church, Calhoun said, she summoned Mallak to pick her up because she wanted do meth and have sex, court records state.

"She said she thought this happened because she decided to go out with Mallak on Christmas and she thought she should have just stayed home," the court records state. 

Officers who searched of the couple's residence after the shooting found suspected methamphetamine, court records state, as well as marijuana plants, drug paraphernalia and firearms. 

The new charging documents include two additional tampering charges. Those felony counts allege Isaacson threw the pistol used to shoot Mallak over an embankment, drove a pickup truck over footprints in the snow and washed his hands to remove gunshot residue.

The results of an autopsy are also included in the new court records. The autopsy determined Mallak died of two gunshot wounds in the back. Previous court records stated Mallak was shot three times.  

During the arraignment, Deputy Public Defender Erik Moore said Calhoun had given several statements to his office since the incident and had "given different stories" each time.

Watters maintained Isaacson's bond at $200,000.

Mallak, 34, was found dead at about 1 a.m. after officers were sent to the area of Galway Drive and Hawthorne Lane in the Heights. Officers found a Pontiac Grand Am with a bullet hole in the driver's side window crashed into a fence with the motor running. Mallak was lying in the snow-covered street nearby. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Isaacson and Calhoun were found sitting in a nearby pickup truck and told an officer they didn't know what happened or who the dead man was. They were allowed to return to their nearby home after they said they had small children to care for.

Officers later spoke with the couple again, and Isaacson was arrested after giving a lengthy statement. The new court records state officers who interviewed Isaacson and Calhoun after the shooting believed both may have been under the influence of drugs.

Isaacson told detectives that he knew Calhoun was having an affair with Mallak, and he had previously told Mallak to stay away from his family. Mallak had abused Calhoun, he said, but she was afraid to report the abuse.

An argument broke out when Isaacson learned Calhoun had summoned Mallak to the house to pick her up early Christmas morning, Isaacson said. Calhoun left the house. Isaacson grabbed a .357-caliber pistol and followed her "because this was all going to end tonight," he allegedly said.

Isaacson said he saw Mallak's car pull up to Calhoun on the street. As he approached, Isaacson said, Mallak drove the car at him.

"Isaacson said he stepped out of the way and fired a shot into the driver's side window as the car passed," court records state.

The car crashed into the fence and Mallak stumbled out.

Isaacson said he fired again and Mallak fell down. He walked up to Mallak, pointed the gun at his head and pulled the trigger but the gun was empty.

According to charging papers, Isaacson told a detective, "There was only one end result for him."

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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