Jonathan Bertsch, who confessed to killing two people and critically wounding two others, will be examined at the Warm Springs State Hospital to determine if he is mentally fit to be sentenced for his crimes.

Deputy County Attorney Jordan Kilby, who has handled Bertsch’s prosecution, spoke to KGVO news about this issue.

“Mr. Bertsch was ordered to be evaluated at the Montana State Hospital,” said Kilby. “He got an evaluation by a local professional who recommended that he be sent to the state hospital for more and involved evaluation to determine whether he is fit to proceed or not. That is exactly what they are looking at evaluating at the state hospital.”

Kilby said Bertsch has already confessed in open court to the crimes, so his guilt is not at issue.

“He did plead guilty, so technically and legally he's been convicted,” she said. “He would be facing two deliberate homicide charges and two attempted deliberate homicide charges and they all, whether attempted or just straight out deliberate, they still carry the same maximum penalty which is life in prison.”

Kilby said the prison terms that Bertsch will serve will eventually be up to the Missoula District Court.

“The maximum could be life without the possibility of parole,” she said. “There's no plea agreement in this case. Each side will make their arguments and then the judge will decide. The case will remain in front of Judge Vannatta. At Warm Springs, the evaluation could take anywhere from 60 days to 150 days, so anywhere from two to five months.”

Bertsch confessed to killing two people and wounding another on March 14, 2019 and then shooting and critically wounding Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Wade Palmer early in the morning of March 15.

There were over 100 law enforcement officers present at his initial arraignment in Missoula District Court. All stood in honor of Trooper Palmer and the other victims.

 

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