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Man pleads not guilty in shooting death at party near Fairfield
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Man pleads not guilty in shooting death at party near Fairfield

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Erin Elliot Holcomb, 25, pleaded not guilty Monday to the charge of deliberate homicide in the death of Trysten Fellers.

A Great Falls man has pleaded not guilty to the May 14 shooting death of a man who was trying to prevent him from driving while intoxicated at a party outside Fairfield, authorities said. 

Erin Elliot Holcomb, 25, entered his plea Monday in Teton County 9th Judicial District Court to the charge of deliberate homicide in the death of Trysten Fellers, 22, of Fairfield. He was appointed a public defender and his bond was set at $100,000.

The maximum penalty is life in prison or imprisonment of 10 to 100 years, according to court documents.

The Teton County Sheriff’s Office said it received a 911 call shortly after 1 a.m. from a woman who said her son had been shot. Deputies went to 1102 Highway 408 near Fairfield and learned Trysten Fellers had died, according to a May 14 affidavit by Teton County Attorney Joe Coble filed by the state in Teton County.

A group of friends had gathered there earlier and several of the people were “heavily intoxicated,” the affidavit stated. Trysten Fellers was trying to arrange sober rides home for those people and took the keys to one of their vehicles. He planned to drive people home as his fiancé followed in another vehicle.

The affidavit said Holcomb got into the driver’s seat and would not get out, and Trysten Fellers called his father, Earl “Sonny” Fellers, for help.

Upon arriving, Sonny Fellers heard a shot and Trysten Fellers crying for help, the affidavit states. It said he passed Holcomb returning from the field and the defendant said to someone on the phone: “I just shot somebody, come and get me.”

Sonny Fellers found his son in the field, officials said. Trysten Fellers had been shot in the neck. The affidavit said that despite Sonny Fellers’ efforts to help his son, Trysten died.

One of the first responders saw a farm truck driven by Holcomb leave from hay stackyards north of the scene, the affidavit states. The truck got stuck in the mud and the defendant was eventually apprehended in that truck.

Deputies learned the defendant had a handgun at the gathering and believe Trysten Fellers was shot with a handgun, the affidavit states.

Holcomb was arrested at the scene, officials said.

Coble said Tuesday he was confident it would be at least a year until there would be a trial. He also said he believed it had been nine years since Teton County, which has a population of about 6,000, has had a homicide.

Efforts to reach Holcomb's public defender were not successful.

Assistant editor Phil Drake can be reached at 406-231-9021.

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