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Jury trial set for man accused of father-in-law’s murder

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POLSON — Desmond MacKay, 36 of Polson, who was charged with deliberate homicide in the death of John Barrows, appeared in District Judge Deborah Kim Christopher’s court on June 18 for sentencing.

Instead, Judge Christopher rejected MacKay’s plea agreement, which would drop the charge from deliberate homicide to mitigated homicide. Deliberate homicide is punishable by death or life imprisonment while mitigated homicide carries a maximum prison sentence of 40 years and not less than two years, plus fines up to $50,000. 

MacKay’s guilty plea was withdrawn, and his not-guilty plea was reinstated. 

A status conference was scheduled for Aug. 13 and a jury trial was set for Sept. 28.

MacKay has been jailed in Lake County Detention Center since March 5, 2014, when he allegedly struck father-in-law Barrows in the back of the head with a framing hammer, although he was attempting to strike brother-in-law Jess Waugh in a surprise attack, according to court documents. 

After MacKay said, “Oh, s—-, sorry,” he then attacked Waugh with the hammer, but Waugh was able to deflect the hammer blow with his arm. Although the hammer injured Waugh’s arm and neck, he was able to wrestle MacKay to the ground until police arrived. Barrows was unresponsive when police arrived. He was flown to a Kalispell hospital, where he died March 15, 2014. 

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