Missoula District Court Judge Shane Vannatta sentenced Jonathan Bertsch on Wednesday afternoon to four terms of life in the Montana State Prison without the possibility of parole.

Judge Vannatta pronounced sentence as Bertsch and his defense team stood before the court.

“In the sentence and judgment of this court that the sentence imposed on defendant, Jonathan Albert Birch is the following; for count one deliberate homicide felony, the death of Shelley Hayes, you are committed to the Montana State Prison for a term of life in prison without the possibility of parole,” began Judge Vannatta.

Judge Vannatta then counted down the other three sentences.

“Count two; attempted deliberate homicide, a felony, which resulted in the death of Julie Blanchard” he said. “You're committed to the Montana State Prison for a term of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Count three; attempted deliberate homicide a felony, the attempted homicide of Kasey Blanchard, you're committed to the Montana State Prison for a term of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Count four; attempted deliberate homicide, a felony of Trooper Wade Palmer, you are committed to the Montana State Prison for a term of life in prison without the possibility of parole. The sentences shall run consecutively to one another.”

In his comments to the defendant, Judge Vannatta said the following.

“The defendant knew what he was doing at the time of the incident,” he said. “He confessed those actions to Sergeant Josh Volinkaty; in a telephone call, and later in social media posts. He is able to appreciate the criminality of his behavior and his insignificant criminal history is also evidence that he's able to conform his behavior to the requirements of law.”

Finally, Judge Vannatta addressed the savage nature of Bertsch’s actions that night.

“Defendant Bertsch's actions on March 14th and 15th of 2019 were senseless, disproportionate, aggressive, impulsive, cold blooded, calculated and cowardly,” he said. “He took the lives of two members of our community and has substantially and irrevocably impaired the lives of two others. The ripple effects of defendant Bertsch's actions will reverberate through this community for years to come.”

Judge Vannatta then remanded Bertsch to the Montana State Prison to begin his sentence of four life terms without the possibility of parole.

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