NewsCrime and Courts


Great Falls woman deemed unfit to stand trial for mother’s murder

Posted at 11:05 AM, Sep 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-19 13:05:06-04

Story by Margaret DeMarco, MTN News

GREAT FALLS, Mont. – Pamela Jean Courtnage has been deemed unfit to stand trial for killing her mother in Great Falls in 2017. This marked the third hearing to determine if she is fit for trial.

The Cascade County Attorney’s Office is moving forward with developing a long-term mental health treatment and commitment plan for Courtnage.

Courtnage will remain in the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs until further notice.

(JUNE 15, 2017) Pamela Jean Courtnage pleaded not guilty in Great Falls on Thursday on charges of deliberate homicide and felony theft. Courtnage is charged with killing a 69-year old woman in Great Falls; court documents at this time identify the victim only as “Jane Doe,” due to the recent implementation of Marsy’s Law.

Courtnage asked Judge Greg Pinski if she could speak on her own behalf. At that point, her court-appointed attorney told Judge Pinski that he had advised Courtnage to exercise her right to remain silent, and that Judge Elizabeth Best had signed a court order for Courtnage to undergo a mental-health evaluation at the state hospital in Warm Springs.

Judge Pinski then advised Courtnage that she was under no obligation to speak, and reminded her that a court reporter was recording everything she said, and her words could be used against her in future court proceedings.

Courtnage then said that her family was trying to take her home on 2nd Avenue North, and take over every asset that she has. Judge Pinski then explained that if she had issues with assets or family matters, they need to be addressed separately, apart from this court proceeding.

Courtnage then told Judge Pinski that she had asked for a lawyer to be appointed to her, instead of the “guy” sitting next to her. Judge Pinski pointed out to her that the man sitting next to her was her court-appointed attorney.

A trial date for Courtnage has not yet been scheduled.

(MAY 30, 2017) Pamela Jean Courtnage is being held in the Missoula County jail on a charge of deliberate homicide. The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office says that Courtnage is facing charges of deliberate homicide and felony theft.

Courtnage, 44 years old, is scheduled to make an initial appearance in court in Missoula this afternoon.

The Great Falls Police Department confirmed that Courtnage’s arrest is related to the “suspicious death” investigation that was launched following Saturday’s discovery of a body in Great Falls.

Officers were called to the home regarding a “deceased individual,” identified in court documents only as “Jane Doe,” 69-years old.

Doe’s husband told police that Doe had come to the house the previous week to perform maintenance on the residence; Courtnage is reported to have been the sole occupant, and Doe had come to help with home repairs.

Doe’s husband told police that he had tried to contact Doe on Friday evening, but did not receive an answer. On Saturday, he drove to the house and found Doe deceased outside.

Responding officers found Doe laying on her back by the patio at the bottom of the stairs.

Officers found signs of a struggle, including blood evidence, leading from the patio to a bedroom.

Doe had been staying at a hotel in Great Falls, and the last time her hotel key card had been used was on Thursday morning.

When Courtnage was arrested near Clearwater Junction, she was driving Doe’s truck and also had Doe’s purse in her possession.

The name of the victim has not yet been released, nor have any details about the cause of death.

We will update you as we get more information.