Authorities say a woman involved in last week’s shooting death at a Helena motel had a pound of methamphetamine in her car at the time of the murder.

The suspected shooter, a convicted drug dealer, told investigators he has been labeled a “snitch” and had been threatened by his victim prior to the homicide, according court documents. 

The woman, Travis Holly Stephens of Butte, was arrested on a charge of meth possession directly after the shooting and now faces two additional felony charges of criminal possession with intent to distribute.

Court documents say investigators found the pound of meth alongside three containers of marijuana, scales commonly used to weigh drugs and bags generally used to deal drugs in her vehicle. A .22-caliber pistol also was located in the vehicle, which was seized after last Wednesday’s shooting.

Stephens, 30, is jailed in lieu of $150,000 bond.

Meanwhile, the suspected shooter, Brandon James LeClair, remains jailed on a felony charge of deliberate homicide. LeClair, 41, is accused of killing 31-year-old Kenneth Lee Purcell Jr. during a fight at Motel 6. Purcell died in the parking lot at 800 N. Oregon St. from a gunshot wound to the chest around 1 a.m.

Directly after the shooting, LeClair ran from the motel. Police apprehended him without incident that afternoon at a gas station in Boulder, 30 miles south of Helena.

LeClair admitted to the shooting, according to court documents. He told investigators Stephens gave him two other guns after the shooting to hide before police arrived at the scene. Those guns, which were both stolen, were later located. 

After his arrest, LeClair told detectives he, Purcell and Stephens all used and sold drugs. Court documents say LeClair said the shooting victim had been threatening and harassing him on social media.

Court documents say when police originally arrested Stephens they found a small amount of methamphetamine alongside a meth pipe that appeared to have recently been used in the motel room she shared with LeClair.

Stephens told police she and LeClair had traveled to the motel from Butte the previous night but would not say why they came to Helena, court documents state. Purcell was in the room with them, she said, when an argument broke out between the two men.
During a subsequent fight, Purcell hit LeClair in the head with a whiskey bottle and kicked him after LeClair fell to the ground, she told investigators.

The fight then moved to the parking lot, where the shooting occurred. Stephens later told police she believed both men were carrying guns. A semi-automatic .9 mm pistol and a spent casing were found near Purcell’s body.

On Purcell’s body, police found a magazine for a semi-automatic weapon believed to be from a different gun.

Stephens said she did not witness the shooting, but later saw Purcell laying in the parking lot. LeClair had bleeding head injuries from the fight, court documents note.

LeClair, who lived in Billings at the time, was sentenced to five years in federal prison in 2007 after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. He had been convicted in federal court in 1999 for possessing methamphetamine with intent to distribute and was sentenced to just over three years in prison. LeClair completed his probation in November 2014.

LeClair is jailed in the Lewis and Clark County Detention Center in lieu of $250,000 bond.

Purcell’s criminal history includes a conviction for criminal distribution of dangerous drugs out of Silver Bow County for a crime that occurred in 2009, state court records show.

 

 

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