Whitford found guilty in killing
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POLSON – Makueeyapee Whitford screamed an obscenity at the family of John Pierre, Jr. as deputies escorted him from Lake County District Court the evening of Dec. 22, minutes after a jury unanimously found him guilty of deliberate homicide.
The jury deliberated for approximately six hours before reaching the verdict and Whitford faces between 20 and 100 years in prison or the death penalty at sentencing on Feb. 25.
Before the verdict was handed down, District Court Judge James Manley commended those in the courtroom for keeping their composure during the emotionally charged case that resulted from the death of Pierre, 26, at a party in Polson March 2013. While on the witness stand, Whitford, 32, admitted to stabbing Pierre with a small pocketknife, but claimed it was in self-defense and that he never meant to kill Pierre.
“You have handled yourselves with dignity and respect,” Manley said. “To all of you I want to tell you how much we appreciate that.”
Seconds after the verdict was read those on both sides of the courtroom burst into sobs and Whitford began singing loudly in native song at the top of his lungs, tears streaming down his face. He continued for a couple of minutes before Manley announced the sentencing date and dismissed the court.
Whitford continued to sing as jurors left the building and then began screaming at Pierre’s relatives as deputies led him back to Lake County Jail.
“This is some s—-,” Whitford screamed. “You know me true.”
Pierre’s relatives were quiet as they left the courthouse, many with tears in their eyes. Earlier that evening a roomful of relatives had autographed a sky lantern with Pierre’s full name, “We love you,” and “justice” scrawled across it. Pierre’s older sister Adria Green launched it just before twilight, about an hour before the verdict was handed down.