A transient man accused of shooting his camping companion pleaded not guilty Tuesday to attempted murder.
John David Hodges, 52, appeared before Gallatin County District Court Judge Holly Brown. He is charged with attempted deliberate homicide and tampering with evidence, both felonies.
Brown continued Hodges’ bail at $1 million.
According to charging documents:
On Aug. 25, dispatch received a call at 9:30 p.m. from Robert Black, who said he had been shot two or three times.
“I’m (expletive) dying, dude,” Black told dispatch.
Bozeman police responded to the 19th Avenue overpass. Hodges was arrested and, while walking to the patrol car, told officers Black had pulled a knife on him and attacked him.
At the hospital, Black told investigators he and Hodges had been camping next to each other for about five months.
On the day of the shooting, Hodges accused Black of knocking down one of Hodges’ tent poles, the man said. Hodges pulled out a gun and Black pushed him over a fence. Hodges then got up and shot Black three times.
Black denied pulling a knife on Hodges.
Black sustained three gunshot wounds. One passed through Black’s abdomen and back. The other two bullets were shattered.
A Colt handgun, ammunition, a powder horn and gunpowder were later found in Hodges’ tent.
When Hodges was taken to the Gallatin County jail, officers taped brown paper bags over his hands to save any gunshot residue. Hodges told the officers he didn’t know why the bags were necessary.
“I definitely shot the gun. I will admit that on paper,” the officers say Hodges told them.
While in jail, Hodges started tearing the bags off his hands. He was handcuffed and placed in a restraint chair.
If convicted, Hodges faces 110 years in prison.
Whitney Bermes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 582-2648. Follow her on Twitter at @wabermes.