Ronald Wilcox, 62, was sentenced Tuesday to 60 years in the state prison in Deer Lodge.  Cascade County District Court Judge Elizabeth Best handed down the sentence.

Wilcox got into an argument at an apartment attached to the Office Bar in Vaughn in June of 2021.  According to reports Wilcox went to his room after the argument and came back out with a gun.  Witnesses said they could hear the racking sound of a round being put into the gun.  Outside the room was Joseph Ray, 33, who was trying to defuse the situation.  When Wilcox pointed the gun at Ray,  Ray shoved Wilcox up against a wall and that's when Wilcox fired the gun, hitting Ray in the abdomen.  Ray later died at Benefis Hospital.

During his trial,  Wilcox tried to claim  that it was self defense but it took a jury less than three hours to find him guilty of deliberate homicide.  Defense attorney Dean Koffler says Ray had no business being involved in the argument. He said, Wilcox did not want anyone to die that day.

During his trial, Jennifer Redfern testified that she was at the scene with her boyfriend and boyfriends father and as they walked by Wilcox a verbal altercation ensued .  She says Wilcox took a comment as a threat but she said it was not that at all.  That's when the victim arrived and grabbed both of the arms of Wilcox. She says they struggled for the gun when Wilcox shot Ray.

Originally Wilcox was charged with criminal endangerment but the County Attorney's office upped the charge to deliberate homicide.

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