MISSOULA — They allegedly shot the man twice in a dispute over stolen methamphetamine and money, then left him for dead along Interstate 90 late on July 16.
The incident sparked a regional search for Troy Anthony Miller, 30, and Katherine Grace Evans, 34, who were eventually found in a Seattle motel room.
Now Miller is back, residing in the Missoula County jail pending a $500,000 bail.
On Monday afternoon, he appeared in Missoula County Justice Court denying the charge of attempted deliberate homicide. He faces one other felony charge – robbery – for allegedly forcing his victim to empty his pockets before shooting him in the neck and shoulder and dumping him on a back road near Turah.
His alleged accomplice, Evans, will face accountability for attempted deliberate homicide and accountability to robbery charges. But she hasn’t arrived in Missoula from Washington, where she remains in custody, explained prosecutor Jordan Kilby.
It’s unclear when Evans will appear in Justice Court, but as of now she hasn’t waived extradition.
According to the prosecutor’s affidavit, the chain of events began in a Missoula Super 8 motel room, when the alleged victim asked the pair for a ride downtown. The victim got in the back seat, while Evans drove and Miller sat beside her.
In Evans’ white Buick LeSabre, with the license plate “4KIDDS,” the trio drove east on I-90, but passed the downtown exits.
Evans finally turned off the highway onto a back road and the couple began accusing the victim of stealing money and drugs from them.
“Katherine was screaming at (the victim) and Troy pulled out a pistol and pointed it at (the victim,)” the affidavit stated.
Miller allegedly told the victim he was going to kill him and ordered him to empty his pockets. The man’s cellphone and wallet spilled out of his pockets and onto the backseat of Evans’ Buick.
Still pointing the gun at the victim, Miller allegedly told his partner to pull off the road and ordered the victim to get out of the car.
That’s when Miller began beating the victim brutally – kicking him in the head, face and chest while he was on the ground. Then Miller allegedly fired his gun twice, hitting the victim in the shoulder and neck.
The man felt the blood on his arm and played dead, hoping to fool the couple so they would leave.
Luckily for the victim, they did.
When Evans and Miller drove away, the victim dragged himself back to the highway, where he was noticed walking or lying on the road by motorists, who called 9-1-1.
He was transported to St. Patrick Hospital, and when deputies arrived he wasn’t able to speak, but wrote down the names of the individuals who he claims shot him. He remembered Evans’ first and last name, but only knew Miller by his first name.
Deputies responded to the pair’s Missoula motel room and found a traffic citation issued to Miller. Later that week, they returned to visit the shooting victim in the hospital.
It was there they showed him two separate photo lineups and the victim was able to positively identify both Evans and Miller.
He was also able to speak at the time and relayed the story in its entirety to detectives.
Evans and Miller were located in Seattle by the Pacific Northwest Fugitive Task Force, after warrants were issued for their arrest.
During his initial appearance Monday, Miller gave a Washington address but said he was in the process of moving to the Missoula area and had secured a job in Bonner.
“I believe him to be a danger to the community and a flight risk,” Kilby said, adding that his ties to the area were tenuous.
Kilby explained to Acting Justice of the Peace Marie Andersen the charges are the latest alleged felonies in a history of prior felony convictions. Miller’s criminal past includes burglary, theft and a previous methamphetamine possession conviction.
“All of my previous convictions are at least eight years old or almost eight years old,” he told the court. “I’ve led a clean life up ’til recently and I am trying to fix that.”
Kilby added that in interviews with law enforcement, Miller denied shooting the man but didn’t deny being at the scene of the crime and being involved with the incident.