Negligent homicide suspect remains behind bars
A man charged with the accidental fatal
shooting of his child’s mother last month pleaded not guilty Monday
in district court to negligent homicide and related misdemeanor
Jacob William Stufflebeam, 30, was also
denied a bond reduction at the hearing after District Court Judge
Jim Wheelis stated that he was not a “good candidate to follow
restrictions” that would accompany his release, such as a ban on
alcohol and firearms.
“I have misgivings about his judgment,”
Stufflebeam faces charges for the Jan.
13 shooting death of 25-year-old Sara Jane Gudmundsen while the two
were allegedly drinking and riding with others in a passenger car
outside Libby. Stufflebeam had allegedly used a pistol to shoot out
the car window and then unintentionally shot her as he was placing
the gun in the holster.
Defense attorney Courtney Nolan had
argued that Stufflebeam’s release would not pose a risk to the
public because, although he is facing a significant charge, it is
one of negligence, not malice.
She had also pointed out that he was
not a flight risk, as his family – including his daughter – lives
in the area.
Prosecutor Robert Slomski expressed
concern of Stufflebeam’s “history of juvenile, immature, stupid
behavior” involved in drinking. Slomski said that Stufflebeam was
in and out of juvenile detention as a youth – he was charged with
breaking into a golf course at night and crashing golf carts with
his friends, calling in a bomb threat to his school at age 17, and
tearing condom machines off the wall at a local gas station,
according to Slomski.
Nolan said that Stufflebeam had a good
support system in place outside of jail, which he needed after the
death of his daughter’s mother.
“This has had a drastic and dramatic
impact on him,” she said.
Stufflebeam’s bond was set at $200,000
last month after his arrest.
Stufflebeam told authorities that he
had unintentionally shot Gudmundsen while sitting behind her in the
backseat of the passenger side of the car, according to an officer
affidavit filed in justice court. The two had been traveling with
three other friends near Libby Dam while consuming alcohol, court
documents said. Stufflebeam allegedly told police that his
.222-caliber pistol discharged into the seat in front of him and
The driver of the car reportedly raced
toward town and called 911 once in cell service range, according to
police. Dispatch took the call at 10:50 p.m. and authorities met
the vehicle five miles north of Libby on Highway 37.
Libby Volunteer Ambulance transported
Gudmundsen to St. John’s Lutheran Hospital where she was pronounced
If convicted, Stufflebeam could face a
maximum of 20 years in prison for negligent homicide, plus
additional time for two related misdemeanor charges of criminal
mischief and shooting from or across a road or highway