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Billings homicide suspect said he shot friend who refused to leave his home

Billings homicide suspect said he shot friend who refused to leave his home

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The Billings man accused in a homicide Friday on the West End told police he shot the man because he would not leave his home.

Robert Webster Knight Jr., 62, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to deliberate homicide in the death of 33-year-old Kenneth Cobb, also a Billings resident.

Yellowstone County District Court Judge Michael Moses set bail at $250,000, which is what prosecutors had asked for. The defense could challenge that at a later date. 

After receiving a 911 hang-up call early Friday morning, dispatchers then received a second call from a man who said he’d just shot another man, charges state.

When police arrived shortly after 2 a.m., Knight was standing in the front yard wearing a bathrobe and shorts. He gave a statement at the scene and an interview to detectives a couple of hours later. 

Knight said he’d shot Cobb once in the chest after telling Cobb he had to leave. Cobb had been arguing with his girlfriend in the basement of Knight's home where they were staying, and Knight had told them to be quiet and to get away from each other, he later told police. He attempted to call 911 but Cobb took the phone away, he said.

Knight said he went to his room, got his unloaded gun and pushed Cobb toward the door, again telling him to leave. He then went to his nightstand, loaded the gun and told Cobb he’d shoot him if he did not leave, according to charges. Cobb was roughly 3 feet away when Knight fired, he said.

Knight told detectives he pulled the trigger, but a round was not chambered, so he pulled the trigger again. Detectives smelled alcohol on him, and he said he’d been drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon and gin, according to charges.

Knight told police he’d let Cobb, a friend, stay in his basement in order to see his girlfriend, who’d also been staying in the basement. A domestic violence case against Cobb prevented him from having contact with the woman and a GPS monitor was tracking his whereabouts, but staying in Knight’s home allowed him to see her without alerting authorities, charges state. The night Cobb was shot was the second night the two stayed at Knight's house.

Knight told police he was never physically harmed or threatened by Cobb, and that his own cell phone was either in his robe pocket or on his nightstand but that he did not use it to call 911, after earlier attempting to call 911 from the basement landline, which Cobb hung up.

Knight said he went for his gun rather than his phone because it was the “heat of the moment,” according to charges.

Cobb’s girlfriend had come over earlier in the night and brought pizzas. She described the argument she had with Cobb that night as minor, according to charges. 

Cobb's death was the third fatal shooting in Billings in less than a month.  


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