On Monday afternoon, a Lewis and Clark County jury found Kyle Hamm guilty on five charges – including two counts of deliberate homicide – linked to a double murder north of Helena last year.
Hamm was the second suspect charged with deliberate homicide in connection with the deaths of David and Charla Taylor on March 18, 2018. Jurors decided that prosecutors had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Hamm had been legally responsible for a robbery at the victims’ home, and that their deaths occurred during the course of that crime.
The jury took just over three hours to reach a verdict. In addition to homicide, they found Hamm guilty of tampering with physical evidence, possession of dangerous drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The court heard four days of testimony last week. The prosecution and the defense agreed that Hamm went to the Taylors’ home that night, along with their son Kaleb and another man, Journey Wienke. Hamm told authorities he waited outside in Kaleb Taylor’s truck, while Taylor and Wienke went in.
Kaleb Taylor has since admitted he attacked and killed his parents at that time. He pleaded guilty to deliberate homicide and is now serving two life sentences in the Montana State Prison.
Lewis and Clark County Attorney Leo Gallagher said during Monday’s closing arguments that Hamm, Taylor and their group of friends needed money because of their drug use. He argued Hamm knew Taylor was going to his parents’ house to steal from them.
“He knew that he was a pariah that preyed upon his parents, and he knew that on March 18,” Gallagher said.
Hamm’s defense attorneys said the evidence suggested the Taylors were killed before any items were taken, and that Taylor and Wienke might have tried to make the crime look like a robbery after the fact. Beyond that, they argued the state couldn’t prove Hamm was legally responsible for anything that happened inside the home.
“Did Kyle have the purpose to help Kaleb carry out the robbery, the injury or murder?” There’s no evidence that, even if Kaleb had a plan, that he shared it with Kyle.”
However, the jurors decided unanimously that prosecutors had proved a robbery occurred and that Hamm was accountable for it.
District Court Judge Mike Menahan said sentencing would likely be at least six to eight weeks away, as the standard pre-sentence investigation would take longer than usual in this case.
Journey Wienke, the third suspect charged with deliberate homicide, is scheduled to go to trial later this month.