Belgrade shooting suspect makes first court appearance - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

Belgrade shooting suspect makes first court appearance

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BOZEMAN- The man accused of shooting his estranged wife last weekend in Belgrade made his first appearance in court on Friday.

Joseph Paul DeWise, 47, is accused of shooting his wife, Lauren DeWise, on Jan. 7. Her roommate, Ashley Van Hemert, was found alive but suffering from a gunshot wound, broken limbs and a punctured lung.

Police say that on 9 AM on Jan. 7, Lauren DeWise's third roommate, Audria Butler, called 911 and said she found one roommate dead and another injured. Butler told responding officers that she immediately suspected DeWise's husband, whom she called Paul.

Court documents indicate that prior to the murder, Lauren DeWise was in the process of divorcing Joseph DeWise and that he was physically abusive. Butler was Lauren's personal trainer and befriended her in August, when she realized Lauren was covered in bruises, and at one point a black eye. Lauren moved in with Butler and Van Hemert in November. Butler told police that after Lauren moved in, Joseph had sent Lauren dozens of text messages and pounded on the door. After the move, Lauren attended a birthday party for their child, a 4-year-old, but told Joseph that she wouldn't be moving back in with him.

On Jan. 6, Lauren told her roommate she "felt safer than she had felt in years."

Joseph has two children from a prior relationship, aged 17 and 15. The older children reported that they spent the night of Jan. 6 watching TV with their father, who was drinking beer, and they went to bed at 2 a.m. The defendant's phone data indicates that he had been texting Lauren throughout the night until 3 AM, and had turned his cellphone's location services feature off until he took his children to church the next morning.

In court on Friday, a judge reduced DeWise's bail from $1 million to $800,000. If he posts bail, he'll be placed on Level 4 court monitoring.

ABC FOX Montana will bring you more details as this case proceeds.

Statistically, the most dangerous time for an abuse victim is when they are trying to leave the relationship. The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline can help people find resources for dealing with an abusive relationship.

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