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Texas man pleads not guilty in shooting death of Whitehall man

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A 48-year-old man accused of fatally shooting a Whitehall man and injuring two others pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide and two other felony charges at his arraignment in Butte district court Thursday.

Tony Dwade Sawyer of Lubbock, Texas, could face the death penalty if convicted.

Sawyer denied killing Joe Powers, 37, and injuring two other men in a late-night shooting spree in remote terrain about 13 miles southeast of Butte on Nov. 3. He fled the scene on Fish Creek Road near state Highway 2 with what police said was the weapon — a 9mm handgun — as well as a 12-gauge shotgun and a 7mm rifle.

Law enforcement were able to track Sawyer to Idaho Falls, Idaho, where he was arrested the next day.

Sawyer’s public defender, Ed Sheehy, said he would provide a notice of his client’s “justifiable use of force” prior to his hearing on Jan. 21. He also stated that he would file a motion to contest Sawyer’s $1 million bond. 

Sawyer remains held in the Butte jail.


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Kathleen J. Bryan covers crime and courts for the Montana Standard. Follow her on Twitter. To send her a news tip, call (406) 496-5519 or email her.

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Joseph Zachary Powers was born in Butte on Friday morning January 27, 1978, to Tom and Zelda Powers. Being the youngest born, he took full adv…

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