The Federal Bureau of Investigation has reconstructed a letter that a Missoula man, who is in jail awaiting trial on two homicide charges, tried to eat when detention staff tried to recover it.
The letter, attached to a motion filed by Augustus Standingrock's defense attorneys on Wednesday, is still difficult to decipher, despite forensic reconstruction and different lighting done by the FBI to identify its contents. The motion did not detail who wrote the letter, or when.
Uncovering the jail letter's contents is one of several reasons Standingrock's defense has asked Judge James Wheelis to delay his trial. Standingrock, 26, has been implicated in the killing and dismemberment of Jackson Wiles, 24, and Marilyn Pickett, 15.
Standingrock's defense attorneys have also requested a continuance in the case so that they may conduct public polling to determine whether extensive media coverage of the case since the August 2017 slayings has tainted the countywide population's ability to produce an impartial jury pool.
"After a year of constant local media coverage, it is necessary to evaluate whether the local [potential jury] is prejudiced by it," defense attorney Nick Brooke wrote in the Wednesday motion.
Additionally, Standingrock's attorneys are still seeking interviews with potential witnesses, according to the motion.
The trial had been most recently set for Jan. 4. The Missoula County Attorney's Office has opposed the motion to delay Standingrock's trial any further.
"The letter contains no new information to the Defendant as he read it before placing it in his mouth," prosecutors wrote in a recent response.
Brooke, however, contended that the letter is illegible, and that the defense counsel needs more time to understand its contents before proceeding to trial.
A hearing on the motion to continue the trial is scheduled for Monday in Missoula County District Court.
Trial dates for Tiffanie Pierce, Standingrock's co-defendant in the case, are yet to be set. She will stand trial on allegations of her involvement in the double homicide, in which Wiles' and Pickett's bodies were reportedly recovered from tubs of chemicals. She also faces trial in a separate incident in which prosecutors charged Pierce with attempted homicide and assault with a weapon after accusing her of breaking into a home and repeatedly stabbing a woman in Missoula weeks before Wiles and Pickett were killed.
In July, prosecutors revealed a suspected motive for the killings, believing Standingrock sought vengeance against Wiles for allegedly abusing a young girl close to Standingrock. His defense attorneys have said in previous filings that evidence from the 2017 homicide investigation revealed Wiles may have sexually abused the girl, but argued no evidence conclusively supports that as Standingrock's motive.