NBC’s “Dateline” will air a two-hour show Friday night that looks at the fatal shooting of Broadwater County Sheriff’s Deputy Mason Moore in 2017 and at father and son Lloyd and Marshall Barrus responsible for his death.
The Montana Standard and sister Lee Enterprises newspapers reported extensively on the shooting along U.S. 287 near Three Forks in May 2017, a high-speed chase that ended in a shootout in Missoula County on May 16, 2017, and the legal case that followed.
Marshall Barrus was mortally wounded in the shootout and Lloyd Barrus was ultimately tried and convicted of deliberate homicide by accountability and attempted deliberate homicide. He was sentenced last year to life in prison without parole.
The two-hour "Dateline" episode, titled “On a Dark, Deserted Highway,” airs Friday at 8 p.m. MST on NBC. It features correspondent Keith Morrison’s interviews with insiders close to the case, including Moore’s widow, Jodi, former Sheriff Wynn Meehan, Alma Barrus and more.
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Lee Enterprises asked Morrison about the upcoming show and he said the story “is very different from most episodes of 'Dateline.'”
“It certainly isn’t a ‘who-done-it’ but rather paints side by side portraits of one angry man and the officers he set out to harm,” Morrison said.
“We dug very deeply into the life history that evolved into the Lloyd Barrus we know. Much of it has never been reported until now.”
Shane Bishop, who grew up in Conrad, produced the episode and said it was the eighth Montana story he and Morrison had done together. The first in 2008 was about Barry Beach, who was convicted for the 1979 death of Kimberly Nees of Poplar.
His case was taken on by the Montana Innocence Project and Centurion Ministries, two organizations that work to overturn wrongful convictions. He was released from prison in 2015 after then-Gov. Steve Bullock granted his clemency request. The state Legislature had just passed a law giving the governor the power to grant clemency even if the Board of Pardons and Parole denies it.
In all, Beach had served about 33 years in prison.
In a trailer for Friday’s episode, two vehicles are shown driving along a two-lane highway at night and Morrison says, “It was just after 2 a.m. as a small-town Montana deputy drives home — end of a quiet shift — and quite suddenly, a car whistled past his patrol vehicle.”
The trailer can be viewed at: https://nbcnews.to/3XVHWca.
Prosecutors say the Barruses held anti-law enforcement, antigovernmental views and were on a “suicide mission” when they provoked Deputy Moore shortly after 2 a.m. by passing him on 287 south of Townsend driving 100 mph. They were in a Chevy Suburban that Lloyd Barrus was driving.
Moore was struck in the face by a bullet through his windshield, his car stopped in the grass just south of Three Forks, and he was alive until the Suburban returned four minutes later and additional gunshots from a semi-automatic rifle ended his life. Prosecutors say Marshall Barrus fired the mortal rounds.
Butte-Silver Bow police spotted the Suburban moving westbound on I-90 about an hour later and started a 90-mile chase, ending in a shootout in Missoula County. Bullets fired from the Suburban knocked two Butte patrol cars from the pursuit, but by then troopers and police from several counties were involved.
The Suburban came to a stop just inside Missoula County, its tires shredded by stop-sticks, and a firefight broke out. Marshall was hit and later died while Barrus escaped injury and was arrested.
In September 2021, a jury in Butte found Barrus guilty of deliberate homicide by accountability in Moore’s death, and of two counts of attempted deliberate homicide.
The Montana Standard covered the trial and "Dateline" had camera crews in the courtroom. At a hearing last April in Townsend, a judge sentenced Lloyd Barrus to three life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Phil Drake at the Helena Independent Record contributed to this story.