An attorney for one of two brothers accused of murdering a U.S. Forest Service officer conceded pellets from his client's shotgun killed the officer but claims the shooting was in self-defense.
In opening statements Monday, attorney Jonathan Cottrell, representing James Pratt, said he won't challenge much of the prosecution's evidence. But he said the killing was not planned, and he disputed other circumstances that would warrant a conviction of first-degree murder, which carries the death penalty under state law.James Pratt, 29, Indian Hills, Colo., and his brother Joseph, 27, Sandpoint, who once ran with convicted spy Christopher Boyce, are accused of first-degree murder and 16 other felony counts stemming from an abortive Jan. 11 burglary of a Sagle household and a wild backwoods shootout with police that left Provo native Brent "Jake" Jacobson dead.
Jacobson, who helped track the two men for 20 hours through deep snow, was the first Forest Service law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty.
Cottrell hinted that the defense would argue the Pratts acted in self-defense and the house burglary and the shootout were separate crimes.
Cottrell also intimated that the defense will challenge the prosecution's contention that Jacobson was acting in his official capacity as a law enforcement officer.
To prove first-degree murder, the prosecution must show the killing was premeditated, the killer was lying in wait for the victim, the victim was a peace officer or the killing occurred during commission of a felony.
Bruce Greene, representing Joe Pratt, reserved his opening statement until after Bonner County Prosecutor Phil Robinson has presented his case.