BUTTE — The patrol vehicle of Broadwater County Sheriff's Deputy Mason Moore, who was killed in the line of duty in May 2017, was so shot up and had so much blood inside the cab, even a seasoned ballistics investigator found it difficult to do his job.
“This was one of the hardest scenes for me to process, just keep my professionalism,” said Anthony Poppler of the Department of Criminal Investigations.
“Do you feel like you did that?” asked Prosecutor Daniel Guzynski.
“I did the best of my abilities,” replied Poppler.
Prosecutors allege Lloyd Barrus was driving when his son Marshall shot at Deputy Moore while he was attempting to pull them over for speeding early May 16, 2017, on Highway 287 near Three Forks. One of the three bullets that struck the deputy’s windshield hit Moore in the head and he died shortly afterward.
Lloyd Barrus is accused of driving away and then returning a few minutes later where the investigators said 19 more shots were fired into the deputy’s patrol vehicle. The investigator testified some of those shots could have struck the already mortally wounded Moore.
“So if Mason Moore at this point is shot, I cannot tell you where he’s positioned in his seat, if he’s positioned against the door, is it possible that these bullets would miss him? It’s possible. If he’s slumped over closer to the passenger side, would these bullets impact him? That’s possible,” said Poppler.
Under cross examination, Lloyd’s defense attorney Craig Shannon got Agent Poppler to admit that his investigation could not rule out that Marshall returned to the scene on his own accord. The defense is arguing that Lloyd Barrus had no intension of murdering the deputy that night and was only trying to help his son.
Marshall Barrus would be killed in a shootout with police the morning of the deputy’s death after leading police on a wild pursuit to Missoula County. Lloyd, who was driving the car, surrendered during the shootout.
Agent Poppler testified the cab of Deputy Moore's patrol vehicle was covered in blood.
“The tissue and biological material, definitely smaller spatter spots that appeared to be bodily fluid, were everywhere from the front passenger-side seat area to where the driver was seated and there was spattered from … it appeared to be a very violent affair,” said Poppler.
The state plans to call more expert witnesses from the Medical Examiner’s Office and a blood spatter expert to testify Tuesday.