Shooting Death Deemed Justifiable - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Shooting Death Deemed Justifiable

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The investigation into a sheriff's deputy-involved shooting in May ends. New details were released into the murder of 49-year-old, Thomas Hilger.

Jurors said Sheriff's Deputy Martin Stuart was justified in shooting 49-year-old, Thomas Hilger, in Worden. Around 3:00 AM on Friday May 24th, deputies said they responded to a call involving Thomas Hilger trying to stage the death of his 22-year-old girlfriend, Erica Yurian. When deputies showed up near the 406 Bar in Worden, Hilger would not comply with officers, and he displayed a gun. That's when Sheriff's Deputy, Martin Stuart, fired two shots at Thomas Hilger. On shot was fired into his shoulder and the other went into his back. "The death was justifiable homicide, and the person it was caused by was Martin Stuart. And in the opinion of the jury it was not by criminal means," Big Horn County Coroner Terry Bullis said.

According to medical experts, Thomas Hilger died at St. Vincent Healthcare 12 hours after he was shot. According to Dr. Stephen Ball, Hilger admitted to murdering Erica Yurian.

Medical experts say 22-year-old Erica Yurian died at 10:00 PM on May 23rd from a gunshot wound to the head. Experts said it appeared Hilger had the gun pressed directly to the back of her head during the execution. When deputies responded to the scene hours after the murder, Hilger would not comply with officers, displayed a gun, and Deputy Stuart fired two shots.

Later, when Hilger was flown to St. Vincent Healthcare he denied surgery, and he told the anesthesiologist he had 'screwed up.' "Once that decision is made for D.N.I. or DNR it's left in the hands of an intensivist or the general surgeon taking care of him," Dr. Stephen Ball said.

According to medical experts, Hilger died at St. Vincent Healthcare 12 hours after he was initially shot. Doctors said if Hilger would have agreed to surgery, and he would have been paralyzed for life due to gunshot wounds to the spine.

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