MISSOULA – The double homicide trial for Caressa Hardy continued to move along in a Missoula courtroom on Wednesday with prosecutors calling witnesses that were neighbors to Hardy at the time of the alleged murders.
Day 3 of the trial was anything but boring as judge James Wheelis had to regain control of the courtroom after a witness was warned of being in contempt of court for an outburst against the county attorney’s office.
Besides the theatrics, neighbors testified about Hardy’s relationship with neighbors, his odd spending habits and a burn pile that might have contained more than just wood and trash.
Hardy is facing two felony deliberate homicide counts and two felony counts of solicitation to commit murder.
Wednesday started with the cross-examination of the only witness to the alleged murders. Hardy’s defense team asked that witness why it took her so long to report the alleged crime when she had the chance after leaving Hardy’s home where she claimed she’d been against her will.
One the first witness was finished with her time on the stand, the State continued to call witnesses — which included Hardy’s neighbors.
They described Hardy as having what they thought to be weird quirks and all three described a strange smell that came from Hardy’s burn pile in the backyard sometime around the homicides in question.
“It’s just not a normal wood smell. It wasn’t a normal burning some trash smell. It wasn’t anything like that it was a very odd odor,” neighbor Pamela Labonte recalled.
When asked by prosecutors if she had anything to compare that smell too, Labonte said, “I’ve thrown — like my dog would bring home deer carcasses and things like that — and we would throw them on the fire. And it just smelled like BBQ smell. It just kind of stuck in your nose.”
“It wasn’t a trash smell it was more like a BBQ deer thrown on the thing smell just stuck around for quite a while,” she concluded.
“The nature of the scent was absolutely rank — unlike anything I have ever smelled,” neighbor Mark McNerny testified. “I mean it wasn’t wood-like, it wasn’t garbage-like. It was something else. Pamela and I looked at each other and went ‘my God what the hell is that’?”
No DNA evidence or human remains were able to be salvaged from the burn piles.
Hardy — who is also identified in court documents as Glenn Dibley — is accused of killing two roommates in 2013 and then attempting to dispose of their bodies in rural Frenchtown.