State v. Scarborough

Decision Date05 December 2000
Docket NumberNo. 98-314.,98-314.
Citation2000 MT 301,14 P.3d 1202
PartiesSTATE of Montana, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Thomas SCARBOROUGH, Defendant and Appellant.
CourtMontana Supreme Court

Rebecca T. Dupuis, C. Edward Hayes, Attorneys at Law, Polson, MT, For Appellant.

Hon. Joseph P. Mazurek, Attorney General; Cregg W. Coughlin, Assistant Attorney General; Helena, MT, Kim Christopher, Lake County Attorney; Mitchell A. Young, Deputy Lake County Attorney; Polson, MT, For Respondent.

Justice W. WILLIAM LEAPHART, delivered the Opinion of the Court.

¶ 1 Following a jury trial in the Twentieth Judicial District Court, Lake County, Tom Scarborough was convicted of deliberate homicide, attempted deliberate homicide, and robbery. Scarborough appeals his conviction, alleging certain statements he made to police were improperly admitted at trial, the jury was improperly instructed in the law of mitigated deliberate homicide and a number of other procedural errors. We affirm the District Court in all respects.


¶ 2 In the early morning of August 27, 1996, Missoula County 911 received an anonymous call reporting a homicide at a house near St. Ignatius. The caller reported seeing Tom Scarborough and his sister-in-law Amy Scarborough load the body of David Willis into the back of a pickup truck. The caller, Ray Morrison (Morrison), indicated that Tom Scarborough attempted to kill him as well.

¶ 3 Tom Scarborough (Scarborough) suffers from schizophrenia. The symptoms of this disease generally include paranoia, auditory hallucinations, susceptibility to suggestion and an inability to reason and make judgments. Scarborough receives a monthly injection of the anti-psychotic drug Haldol to control his symptoms. A blood test taken shortly after his arrest indicated a concentration of Haldol in Scarborough's blood of three nanograms per milliliter. Experts testified at trial that this level was at the low end of the therapeutic range.

¶ 4 In 1992, Scarborough voluntarily admitted himself for treatment at the Montana State Hospital. In 1993, Scarborough was readmitted to the Montana State Hospital for psychiatric evaluation following his arrest on charges of felony robbery and misdemeanor drug and paraphernalia possession. This arrest lead to a six-year suspended sentence on the robbery charge. While all of the medical experts who have examined him agree that Scarborough suffers from schizophrenia, many have suggested that he exaggerates his symptoms and uses his schizophrenia as an excuse to avoid responsibility for his actions.

¶ 5 Raymond Morrison, an itinerant salesman, met Scarborough during the summer of 1996 when he sold his brother Rick Scarborough (Rick) and sister-in-law Amy Scarborough (Amy) a car. In mid-August Morrison picked up a hitchhiker named David Willis (Willis) outside Butte. They traveled together in Morrison's camper, eventually stopping at Rick and Amy's house near Trout Creek on or about August 23, 1996.

¶ 6 Willis and Morrison partied with the Scarboroughs for about three days. During this time, Amy approached Morrison for a small loan to buy marijuana. When Morrison agreed, she noticed that he took a large sum of money—approximately $1,500—from a drawer in his camper. She remarked "That's a lot of money." Amy later testified that Scarborough and his brother Rick planned to take Morrison and Willis fishing at a "remote location" where Scarborough was going to kill them for Morrison's money.

¶ 7 This plan failed when Morrison and Willis decided to forget about the loan and leave. As they were packing up, however, Scarborough convinced Morrison to take them to St. Ignatius where he had a house he wanted to clean up in preparation for sale. He had a car there that he would sell to pay back the loan. Morrison reluctantly agreed to take them and, to his surprise, the Scarboroughs immediately began making preparations to leave, despite the fact that it was already late in the evening. Scarborough brought a .22 rifle with him which he said was to kill cats that were living in the house.

¶ 8 When they arrived in St. Ignatius, Scarborough and Amy wanted Morrison and Willis to sleep in the house. Morrison declined because the house was filthy and his camper was clean and comfortable. Willis said he would sleep outside, as was his usual practice, but Scarborough urged him sleep in the upstairs bedroom, suggesting that the neighborhood was dangerous. Morrison went outside and climbed into the cab-over bed in his camper. When Willis went inside, Morrison could see through the windows of the house that Scarborough and Amy were directing Willis upstairs. They headed up the stairs with Willis behind Amy and Scarborough in the rear, carrying the rifle. Morrison saw Scarborough bring the rifle up from his waist. As they passed out of view, Morrison heard a bang which he believed was a gunshot. It was followed by another bang a short while later.

¶ 9 Scarborough then came down the stairs and ran towards the camper. He opened the screen door to the camper and jumped inside, rifle in hand. He placed the rifle on the table, telling Morrison he had just shot a cat in the cellar. Morrison knew this to be a lie because he had seen Scarborough come from upstairs. Scarborough then pointed the rifle at Morrison who slapped the barrel away. The two struggled over he gun. When Morrison grabbed the barrel he felt Scarborough pull the trigger and heard a click but the gun did not fire. When Morrison told Scarborough not to point the gun at him Scarborough said he was "just kidding" and "just messing with him" and that the gun was not loaded. Scarborough offered to go back in the house and get Morrison a beer. Morrison agreed just to get Scarborough to leave.

¶ 10 Morrison wanted to leave but he was concerned about Willis. He quickly loaded his things and then walked to the front door of the house. He saw the rifle lying on the stove just inside the door. When he opened the bolt of the rifle an unfired bullet popped out of the chamber and rolled onto the stove. He could see that the bullet was a dud because of the firing pin impression on it. The next bullet in the magazine appeared to be jammed in the rifle. When Scarborough saw Morrison with the gun he ran over, grabbed the gun and started working the action. Morrison ran back out of the house and, looking back, saw Scarborough headed up the stairs. Before he reached his truck, Morrison heard another gunshot.

¶ 11 As he climbed back into his truck, Amy came outside and asked Morrison where he was going. He said that Scarborough had tried to kill him and that he was getting out of there. When he asked her where Willis was, Amy replied that he was asleep. He told her to wake him and send him out. Amy went inside but Morrison could see that she did not go upstairs. When she came back outside she said that Willis was watching TV. Morrison told her he was leaving and drove away but, after a short while, he doubled back, parking where he could still see the house.

¶ 12 In the meantime, Scarborough had backed up his pickup to the front door of the house. From where he was parked, Morrison watched Scarborough and Amy drag Willis' body from the upstairs bedroom and throw it in the back of the truck. When Scarborough drove off Morrison turned off his headlights and followed Scarborough's pickup. He could see Willis' body in the back of the truck. When Scarborough slowed and stopped near a bridge over Mission Creek, Morrison sped around him and drove away. He was scared and kept driving until he reached the Clinton rest area, east of Missoula, where he called 911 and reported the incident.

¶ 13 Amy later testified that Scarborough's pickup had run out of gas near the bridge, that Scarborough dragged Willis' body out of the back of the truck and down along the creek and that Scarborough concocted a story for the police. He told Amy to tell police that Morrison committed the murder and that they were outside working on his pickup when they heard gunshots and saw Morrison run down the stairs and out of the house.

¶ 14 Following Morrison's 911 call, Lake County Sheriff Joe Geldrich (Sheriff Geldrich) and Lake County Sheriff's Detective Mike Sargeant (Detective Sargeant) were dispatched to the scene. They discovered Scarborough's truck on the Mission Creek bridge. It appeared that someone had thrown dirt on the bed of the truck in an attempt to cover fresh blood. Following drag marks leading from the truck, they found Willis' body hidden in the brush a short distance from the creek. An autopsy revealed that Willis had been shot three times from close range with a .22 caliber rifle. After finding the pickup and Willis' body, the officers went to the house where Scarborough answered the door and invited them in.

¶ 15 The officers noticed what appeared to be drops of fresh blood on the floor. Sheriff Geldrich asked Scarborough for consent to perform a search. He agreed and accompanied Detective Sargeant to his car to sign a consent form. On the way, Scarborough volunteered that the shooting had occurred in an upstairs bedroom, that the rifle used in the crime was in a garment bag in an upstairs closet and that he had removed the victim's body from the house and disposed of it near the creek. He identified Morrison as the person who shot Willis. After signing the consent form, Scarborough was left to wait in the police car while officers discussed how to proceed. Around this time, Sheriff Geldrich informed Detective Sargeant that Scarborough had a history of mental illness. The officers then decided to obtain a search warrant for the house and Scarborough's truck.

¶ 16 While they were waiting for the warrants, Detective Sargeant and Lake County Sheriff's Officer Alexander advised Scarborough of his Miranda rights and had a second conversation with him. Scarborough repeated his earlier story that Morrison had killed Willis. He told Detective...

To continue reading

Request your trial
31 cases
  • State v. Whitehorn
    • United States
    • Montana Supreme Court
    • March 26, 2002
    ...stated, in denying a motion for a new trial: The jury did exactly what the Supreme Court said it couldn't do in [State v.] Scarborough, [302 Mont. 350, 14 P.3d 1202 (2000)]. Either the jury or the Supreme Court is wrong. It's not the jury. In another recent case, a district court denied an ......
  • State v. Macgregor
    • United States
    • Montana Supreme Court
    • October 15, 2013
    ...finding of deliberate homicide. Demontiney v. Mont. Twelfth Judicial Dist. Crt., 2002 MT 161, ¶ 16, 310 Mont. 406, 51 P.3d 476;State v. Scarborough, 2000 MT 301, ¶¶ 48–50, 302 Mont. 350, 14 P.3d 1202. MacGregor, who drafted and submitted this instruction to the court, did not object to it. ......
  • State v. Weldele
    • United States
    • Montana Supreme Court
    • April 29, 2003
    ...the defendant, the prejudicial effect of the testimony, and whether a cautionary jury instruction could cure any prejudice. State v. Scarborough, 2000 MT 301, ¶ 81, 302 Mont. 350, ¶ 81, 14 P.3d 1202, ¶ 81 (citing Partin, 287 Mont. at 18, 951 P.2d at ¶ 76 In the case at bar, while Sheridan's......
  • State v. Maile
    • United States
    • Montana Supreme Court
    • June 23, 2017
    ...Substantial evidence requires more than a mere scintilla of evidence, but may be less than a preponderance of the evidence. State v. Scarborough , 2000 MT 301, ¶ 30, 302 Mont. 350, 14 P.3d 1202. The voluntariness of a confession or admission is a factual question which must take into accoun......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT