$2 million bond set for Molt murder suspect

48-year-old has criminal history of firearms offenses, drug offense
2009-11-02T14:30:00Z 2010-10-28T22:30:19Z $2 million bond set for Molt murder suspectGREG TUTTLE Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
November 02, 2009 2:30 pm  • 

COLUMBUS - Bond was set at $2 million on Monday for a Molt man accused of fatally shooting his neighbor.

Jeffrey Lynn Hardman, 48, made an initial appearance in Stillwater County Justice Court, where he was charged with deliberate homicide for the Oct. 16 death of Michael Blattie.

Stillwater County Attorney John Petak asked for the high bond, saying the charge against Hardman is the most serious offense that can be filed. Petak also said Hardman has a criminal history that includes several firearms offenses, a drug offense and a domestic-violence offense in West Virginia.

Judge Marilyn Kober set the bond and ordered Hardman to appear Nov. 16 for arraignment in District Court. She told Hardman that he is accused of shooting 33-year-old Blattie in the abdomen, causing his death.

'Multiple medical problems'

Hardman spoke briefly during the hearing, giving the judge his full name and saying that he could not post any bond amount. He told the judge that he suffers from "multiple medical problems" but has no mental health issues that prevented him from understanding the charge filed against him.

Hardman appeared without an attorney during the hearing that lasted less than 10 minutes.

He was returned to the Yellowstone County Detention Facility in Billings after the court appearance in Columbus.

Hardman was arrested 4:30 p.m. Friday near Molt.

Few details of the shooting have been released by authorities, who initially described Blattie's death as suspicious. Stillwater County Sheriff Cliff Brophy has declined to elaborate on the circumstances of the death, saying only that a firearm was involved.

No details released

The state Division of Criminal Investigation has assisted in the case, but the agency also has declined to release details.

Results of an autopsy conducted two days after the shooting have not been released, and authorities have remained silent on any possible evidence they found during searches last week of Hardman's residence or a possible motive behind the shooting.

Hardman and Blattie lived near each other on Molt-Rapelje Road, about 1½ miles northwest of Molt and about 20 miles northwest of Billings.

Petak, the county attorney, said Monday that he soon will file charging documents in the case, which usually provide more details of the allegations against a defendant.

The hearing Monday was based on a probable-cause affidavit filed by investigators and is not a public record, Petak said.

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