A Butte man led police on a chase on Interstate 90 into Anaconda-Deer Lodge County and then, the jury concluded, fired a shot through the windshield of his pickup in the direction of three officers at the Warm Springs exit.
The date was June 19, 2021. The officers had deployed “stop sticks” to halt the suspect’s flight. In April, after a five-day trial, a jury found John David Hill guilty of attempted deliberate homicide, three counts of assault on a peace officer and several companion charges.
On Aug. 17, Hill, 43, appeared before District Court Judge Ray Dayton and was sentenced to life in prison, with no possibility of parole for the first 30 years of the sentence, for the attempted deliberate homicide conviction.
In addition, he was sentenced to 10 years for each of the three counts of assault on a peace officer, to run consecutively to each other but concurrently with the life sentence.
Hill received prison time also for criminal possession of dangerous drugs, partner or family member assault and fleeing or eluding a peace officer – all to run concurrently with the life sentence.
A five-day jury trial in April yielded the convictions sending Hill to prison for a string of events that began in Uptown Butte in June 2021. That’s when Butte-Silver Bow Officer Brian Berger attempted to stop Hill’s teal green Ford Ranger.
Hill fled in the pickup with a female passenger and they headed west on I-90.
Police in Anaconda-Deer Lodge County joined the effort to stop Hill. Officers Richard Pasha and Daniel Beasley sped out to I-90, where Pasha deployed “stop sticks” near the Warm Springs westbound on-ramp. They were joined by Officer David Wolfe.
The officers later said they heard a loud “pop” as the pickup neared the tire-deflation device. Soon after, Hill’s pickup, with one tire flat, stopped about 2 miles down the highway. He and his female companion were arrested at gunpoint. She was not charged.
Pasha and other officers testified during the trial that there was a bullet hole in the pickup’s windshield and an AR-15 style pistol (also described as a rifle during the trial), a shell casing and unfired cartridges in the pickup.
Prosecutors included Ben Krakowka, county attorney for Anaconda-Deer Lodge County, and Matt Enrooth, a deputy county attorney.
Krakowka said the state was satisfied with Hill’s sentence. He said the guilty verdicts from the jury and the sentence demonstrate support for police officers in Anaconda-Deer Lodge County.
“The court’s sentence sends a message that assaults and attempts to take the lives of the brave men and women in our police department will not be tolerated,” Krakowka said.
He added that Butte-Silver Bow detectives investigated the case, with ballistic testimony provided during trial by an agent from the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, with additional assistance from the Montana Highway Patrol.
Defendant John Hill is pictured here in April when a jury in Anaconda-Deer Lodge County found him guilty of attempted deliberate homicide and other felony charges. He has now been sentenced to life in prison.