NewsCrime and Courts


Judges reduce sentence in Helena negligent homicide case

Posted at 1:13 PM, Aug 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-25 15:50:21-04

HELENA — The man who pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in the 2018 shooting death of a Helena doctor is set to be released from custody in October after a panel of judges granted him a reduced sentence.

The three members of the Montana Supreme Court’s Sentence Review Division ruled unanimously this month that Gregg Trude’s original sentence was “clearly excessive.”

District Court Judge Michael McMahon initially sentenced Trude to 20 years in prison, with all but 3½ years suspended.

The Sentence Review Division amended that sentence to 15 years under the Montana Department of Corrections, with all but one year suspended. Trude will also be required to complete 500 hours of community service.

Trude -- who is currently at the Missoula Assessment and Sanction Center -- is now set to be released on Oct. 14.

Trude pleaded guilty last year, in connection with the death of Dr. Eugene “Buzz” Walton. The two men were returning from a hunting trip on Oct. 21, 2018. Walton was pulling his rifle out of the back seat of Trude’s truck when Trude’s rifle went off.

Trude challenged McMahon’s decision, accusing him of not being impartial.

He eventually reached an agreement with prosecutors – giving him the ability to seek parole or a review of his sentence, in exchange for dropping his challenge against the judge and paying $3.7 million in restitution to Walton’s wife, Leslie.

As part of the agreement, prosecutors did not appear in opposition at Trude’s sentence review hearing on Aug. 7. Leslie Walton did speak at the hearing, and several of Trude’s family members appeared on his behalf.