Judge says he’ll send driver convicted of killing Brian Beaver to prison


On Tuesday, the Montana Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Brian Holm, the man convicted in 2011 of driving drunk and killing Aberdeen resident Brian Beaver. Now a Missoula judge said he’ll move quickly to send the Lolo man to prison.

“I want to get going on the prison sentence as soon as possible,” said Missoula County District Court Judge Dusty Deschamps, who sentenced Holm to 30 years in prison with 15 suspended. “I’ll move it forward as soon as I’ve got jurisdiction back.”

Teesha Beaver, whose 24-year-old brother was struck and killed by Holm’s car when it careened onto a sidewalk along Brooks Street in 2010, said Wednesday that she was “still a little in shock” about the court’s ruling and Deschamps’ words.

Beaver, who with the rest of Beaver’s family has pushed hard to see Holm in prison, said the wait “has been so frustrating. … I’m wondering how long it’s actually going to take for him to be put into prison.”

However, Holm’s attorney said Wednesday his client is still in a Minnesota hospital recovering from heart valve-replacement surgery last month. Deschamps issued an order last fall allowing Holm to travel to Minnesota, where Holm’s sister lives, for a medical evaluation and surgery at the Mayo Clinic.

“I don’t know when he’s going to be able to travel back to Montana,” attorney Rich Buley said. “However, what would happen once he gets back is that he would be transferred to Montana State Prison and they’ll be responsible for him.”

Deschamps said the Supreme Court allows a couple of weeks for petitions for rehearing a case before sending its decision back to the District Court.

Deschamps stayed Holm’s sentence so that Holm could file his appeal, which claimed that his constitutional right to effective counsel was denied when Deschamps turned down his request for a private attorney and a continuance eight days before trial.

“This court agreed with the state that it appeared Holm merely was attempting to delay the trial,” said the Supreme Court, in a majority decision written by Justice Brian Morris. Chief Justice Mike McGrath and Justices Beth Baker and Michael Wheat also signed.

The court noted that Holm made no attempts to replace his public defender, Scott Spencer, during the four months that the trial — at Holm’s request — was delayed.

“I miss my son, so much. Just to hear his voice, to hold him, to tell him I love him one more time would be wonderful, but Holm took that away from us,” Beaver’s mother, Virginia, said in an email Wednesday. “I would like to thank the Supreme Court for a just ruling.”

Beaver was on his way to a vacation in Yellowstone National Park with two boyhood friends when the trio stopped in Missoula for the night. The three young men were walking along Brooks Street when Holm’s car swerved across opposing lanes of traffic and up onto the sidewalk near Paxson Street, striking Beaver.

Holm’s blood alcohol content was measured at 0.10 — the legal driving limit is 0.08 percent — and there was a go-cup filled with Black Velvet and Coke in his car, according to court documents. Holm also had taken a sleep aid, a prescription painkiller and an antidepressant, the documents said, although he vigorously denied they affected his ability to safely drive.