Saturday, August 13, 2022

Bail kept at $25 million for accused campground killer

Hagadone News Network | August 6, 2022 12:00 AM

Bail will remain at $25 million for a Kalispell attorney accused of shooting two people — one his former, long-time domestic partner — at a campground near Libby Dam in May.

Garry Douglas Seaman, 63, sought a bail hearing to reduce the $25 million bond set by Lincoln County District Judge Matt Cuffe. He is accused of deliberate homicide and attempted deliberate homicide in the shootings of James Preston Freeman and Seaman’s former partner at the Alexander Creek Campground on May 23. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in June.

Under state law, if Seaman sought to use real estate to cover the bond, he would need to put up about $50 million worth of property to be released.

Missoula County District Judge Jason Marks, who took over the case from Cuffe, made his decision rapidly Friday morning in the Lincoln County Courthouse after the alleged surviving victim testified about her fear of Seaman and her belief that he would seek to “finish the job" if freed.

Marks said he believed $25 million is appropriate.

“If the defendant is able to post bail, the Lincoln County Attorney’s Office should be notified five days prior to his release,” Marks said.

The one-time couple was “going through a contentious separation, and recent instances of violence and requests for civil standby assistance have been documented by the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office,” wrote Deputy County Attorney Jeffrey Zwang in an affidavit charging the shootings.

THE VICTIM'S emotional and charged testimony left the courtroom in silence after County Attorney Marcia Boris questioned the woman about her past relationship with Seaman and her feelings since the alleged shooting.

“I’m terrified,” the woman said. “I never thought it would go this far. If he ever gets out, I have no doubt he’d finish the job.”

She said her doctors told her she shouldn’t have survived the attack.

“I was shot in the left hand, twice in the stomach, in the buttocks, my right breast. I have to wear a colostomy bag because of what the shrapnel did to my intestines,” she said.

The woman, who was able to walk into the courtroom with some assistance from family, explained that she went to work in Seaman’s law firm on May 19, 1994. She said they began a romantic relationship 15 years ago and one child was born of the union.

“We broke up in 2020, but I went back to him briefly before things went downhill again,” she said. “It (the relationship) ended in April 2022. One night he said, ‘Get the (expletive) out of my house and you’re fired.’”

She also talked about the day of the shooting and her relationship with Freeman.

“James and I were old friends from 30 years ago and we had texted and talked,” she said.

After their relationship evolved, they decided to go camping in Lincoln County.

“We didn’t tell anyone where we were going, but I told my son we were going camping. It was the first weekend Garry would take him (their son),” she said.

The woman said the reservation they had made for a campsite was cancelled because of a “glitch in the system.”

“We stopped at a restaurant in Libby and a waitress told us another place we could go,” she said.

The woman said she and Freeman spent time shooting guns at a local firing range before returning to the campsite.

“James and I were sitting at a picnic table when Garry drove in. I believe my guns were in the glove box of my vehicle," she recalled.

“He said, ‘It’s you, it’s you,’ and then started shooting. He shot James first, then me,” she said.

The woman alleged, in a petition for a protection order filed in Flathead County, that Seaman had followed her to homes she was interested in renting and was using electronic devices to track her location because she received notifications on her phone, according to the affidavit filed by Zwang.

According to court documents, the woman identified Seaman as the shooter while deputies provided emergency treatment. She gave them a description of his vehicle and told them it had “Kalispell plates.”

He was arrested near his home in the Flathead Valley following a manhunt involving multiple law enforcement agencies.

In addition to her testimony about the alleged shooting, the woman explained why she didn’t want the bail reduced.

“He’s lived a life of luxury,” she said. “He has a home on Flathead Lake with his brother, two other homes in Kalispell, several mobile home lots in Great Falls and Kalispell.

“He also has hundreds of guns, he has guns all over the house, at work, in his vehicle, he has an airplane, he has several sports cars and other vehicle, he collects gold bullion and I am just like all of those things - I am a possession to him and that’s why he shot me,” she said.

NICK BROOKE, an attorney with the Missoula firm of Smith and Stephens, who is part of the team representing Seaman, said if his client were able to post bail, he’d likely live in Missoula and wear a GPS monitoring device.

Brooke also argued that a receivership has been appointed for Seaman and his property. It usually means his ability to control, manage or operate the property has been displaced.

Seaman's alleged victim felt that wasn’t enough to keep him from gaining his freedom and harming her.

“Garry will save and protect his assets from losing it in potential litigation,” she said. “I wouldn’t feel any safer if he were in Missoula and I don’t trust an ankle bracelet. I believe he could cut it off and find me and my family before anyone could get there.”

She also said he had “bug-out” bags prepared in case he ever had to flee the area. Such bags, typically carried by military personnel, may contain an emergency kit, cash and other items used to survive for short period of time while trying to elude potential captors.

She also said Seaman attempted to use their son as an alibi on the day of the alleged shooting.

“He tried to drop off my son at my parents, but they weren’t home. He took him back home and told my son he was going to Missoula to his older son because he was having trouble in school.

“When (my son) called (his son) in Missoula, the older sibling said he hadn’t talked to dad in weeks,” she said.

Seaman’s next court hearing is scheduled for Sept. 9.

Deliberate homicide and attempted deliberate homicide are punishable by the death penalty, life imprisonment or at least 10 years in the Montana State Prison.

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