A Billings man charged with murder will claim that he shot the victim in self-defense in his home on Broadwater Avenue.
The self-defense claim by Jeffery Todd Guy surfaced during a District Court hearing Wednesday to consider a request by Guy's public defenders to reduce his bond from $500,000 to $150,000.
After hearing arguments from prosecutors opposing the reduction, Judge G. Todd Baugh reduced bond to $250,000. He also ordered that if Guy is released from jail on bond, he must wear an electronic alcohol monitoring device.
Along with Guy's self-defense claim, several new matters came to light during the hearing, including an assertion by prosecutors that Guy is a practicing satanist.
Defense attorneys, who had sought to close the bond reduction hearing to the public, countered that Guy's religious beliefs are irrelevant and stem from his interest in "death metal" music.
Guy, 43, is charged with deliberate homicide and two counts of felony tampering for the March 20 shooting death of Scott Maxson.
Prosecutors allege that Guy shot the 44-year-old Billings man at least six times with a .45-caliber Mac-10 semiautomatic pistol inside Guy's house at 738 Broadwater Ave.
Guy called 911 the next morning to report that he had found the body of a man he did not know in the alley behind his house.
Prosecutors allege that Guy shot Maxson and dragged the body out of the house to the alley. Guy then tried to cover up the crime by cleaning blood and burning spent shell casings in a fireplace, prosecutors say.
Guy has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has remained in the county jail since his arrest. Recently, his public defenders filed a motion to reduce his bond so he can live with his mother while awaiting trial.
The bond hearing Wednesday was delayed for about 30 minutes while Baugh considered a motion to close the hearing to the public and press at the request of the public defenders, Christopher Abbott and Jesse Myers. The motion was opposed by Martha Sheehy, attorney for The Gazette, who argued that the defense motion failed to justify closing the public courtroom.
Sheehy also argued that a brief filed under seal related to the bond reduction matter by Deputy County Attorney David Carter should be opened. Baugh agreed, saying the defense motion to close the hearing was denied and the prosecutor's brief was unsealed.
During the hearing and in court briefs, Abbott said Guy's bond should be reduced for several reasons, including his lifelong ties to Billings, where his family also lives. Guy's mother, who was formerly married to a Billings police officer, has agreed to let Guy live in her home and be responsible for ensuring that he follows the conditions of pre-trial release, Abbott said.
In court records, Abbott said Guy's self-defense claims center on his account of the shooting, including a claim that Maxson confronted Guy about being a confidential police informant and threatened him with a sword that he took off a wall inside Guy's house.
Guy said he retrieved the Mac-10 pistol from his bedroom and fired a "warning shot" at Maxson. Guy shot Maxson only when Maxson continued to threaten him with the sword, according to his defense attorney's account.
Carter, the prosecutor, argued against a reduced bond, saying Guy's claim of self-defense is not supported by the "substantial steps" Guy took to cover up the shooting.
Maxson was shot six times, Carter said, and Guy spent about 12 hours cleaning blood and disposing of evidence before calling police.
Carter also said that Guy led a "double life" revolving around his belief in the occult. While his mother and family were unaware of his satanic beliefs, Guy "prominently displayed idols and literature on the subject" in his home, Carter said in court records.
Abbott argued that the items in Guy's home were associated with Guy's interest in rock music commonly known as "death metal," which often uses images of Satan and the occult.
There is no connection, Abbott said, between Guy's interest in music culture and his potential danger to the community.
Baugh agreed with Abbott and lowered the bond. The judge also noted that Guy's claim of self-defense was an issue for a jury to decide.
If Guy posts bond and flees before trial, the judge said, "that will tell us" if his claims are true.
Trial is set for Sept. 12.