Vancouver suspect in Montana drive-by shooter pleads not guilty

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Updated: August 1, 2013, 8:23 PM

 
photoMatthew Colbert, 38, of Vancouver, appears in Philipsburg District Court Thursday. He pleaded innocent to two counts of felony attempted deliberate homicide in connection with a drive-by shooting near Drummond, Mont. on Friday.

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BUTTE, Mont. — The Vancouver man accused of shooting at another vehicle from his pickup truck on Interstate 90 near Drummond, Mont., says he’s innocent to the two counts of felony attempted deliberate homicide filed against him.

Attorneys for Matthew Colbert, 38, entered not guilty pleas in Philipsburg District Court on Thursday. Colbert, of Vancouver, is accused of shooting a car with two people inside on the morning of July 26.

Colbert faces up to life in prison if convicted.

District Judge Ray Dayton set Colbert’s bond at $250,000 and remanded him to the Anaconda-Deer Lodge jail. Colbert’s next hearing is Sept. 5.

Colbert was handcuffed and wearing a black-and-white-striped jail-issued jumpsuit at the brief hearing. He said nothing during the hearing except to acknowledge he understood the charges against him.

Colbert’s public defenders related a complaint on behalf of their client that he wasn’t being allowed to make phone calls from the jail. Dayton said he would check into that complaint.

About 6:40 a.m. July 26, Colbert allegedly shot at a vehicle occupied by Danny and Kathleen Muir of Darby, Mont., while he was driving west on Interstate 90 a few miles west of Drummond. The Muirs were not hit by the bullet. The shot shattered the couple’s driver and passenger side windows.

Danny Muir, who was driving, fired a shot from his own .22-caliber pistol at the suspect’s rear tire in an attempt to stop him, but the shot missed the tire. Colbert broke off the attack by driving across the median and heading in the other direction on the interstate, according to the affidavit.

The couple called 911. Colbert was arrested shortly following the incident after being stopped by the Montana Highway Patrol.

County Attorney Christopher Miller wouldn’t speculate on the motive for the alleged shooting.

Miller said Colbert is being held in Anaconda jail, because the facility is better staffed and equipped to handle violent or special-needs inmates.