Published August 8, 2015
BILLINGS, MONTANA — Jesus Deniz Mendoza, 18, the accused killer of Jason and Tana Shane, pleaded not guilty to five felonies on Friday, in the U.S. District Court of Montana in Billings.
His not guilty plea comes after he told the FBI after his arrest he killed the couple and shot their daughter, Jorah, 22, because one of the victims “laughed” at him.
Family members and friends of the Shanes were in court on Friday to witness the alledged murderers pleas.
The five felonies were handed down on Thursday when a grand jury indicted Mendoza with two counts of murder and three counts of assault.
Mendoza made his plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Carolyn Ostby. He was in U.S. District Court because the federal government handles felony charges committed on tribal lands and Indian reservations. The Shanes were tribal citizens of the Crow Nation.
According the FBI Special Agent Larry McGrail II, Mendoza told investigators that he shot the couple near Pryor on the Crow Indian Reservation.
Both, 47-year-old Tana Shane and 50-year-old Jason Shane Jr., died at the scene on Wednesday, July 29, 2015, outside of Pryor, Montana, where they resided. The Shanes, along with Jorah, had stopped to provide assistance to him because he appeared to be stranded along the side of the road out of gas. Jorah Shane was also shot at the scene.
At the time of his arrest for the murders of the Shanes, Mendoza was awaiting trial in Wyoming state court on burglary and theft charges and was court ordered not to leave the state of Wyoming. It was not clear why he was even in Montana.
Mendoza will be held in custody pending future court proceedings.