Larry Moore Facing Parole

Larry Moore is seen in court in this undated file photo.

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Nearly 25 years after former Gallatin County Sheriff’s Deputy Brad Brisbin disappeared, his killer is set to ask for parole.

Larry Moore, 68, the first person in Montana to be convicted of murder without the victim’s body being found, will appear before the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole on April 30 for his third parole hearing since his 1992 conviction in the murder of 38-year-old Brisbin, who also was a West Yellowstone businessman.

The case, which sparked national media attention, also marked the first criminal case in state history where then-controversial DNA evidence was admitted in trial.

Moore will appear at Thursday’s hearing via video from a prison in Oregon, where he has been housed since 1996 after he requested to be moved out of state.

The parole board has denied Moore six times.

After his initial parole hearing in August 2000, the board concluded that “release at this time would diminish the seriousness of the offense.”

After a review two years later, the board denied Moore parole, again noting the severity of his offense and the “strong objection from criminal justice authorities and/or citizenry.”

The board denied Moore in 2004, saying again that if they released him, it would diminish the serious effects of his crime on the victim’s family and the community.

In 2009, the board pointed to strong opposition from Brisbin’s family and law enforcement to his release. The board also said Moore had failed to accept responsibility for his crime.

Brisbin disappeared Nov. 9, 1990, after meeting Moore at Bair’s Truck Stop in Belgrade.

Moore, who also owned a business in West Yellowstone at the time, initially told investigators that Brisbin asked for the meeting and said that Brisbin left in a car with a woman. Moore later changed his story, saying he found Brisbin in his trailer with a handgun and that Brisbin was injured by a bullet as the two struggled with a gun. Moore said Brisbin then disappeared while he went for water.

Moore was charged with deliberate homicide and tampering with evidence in December 1990 after a bloodied bullet and a piece of human flesh were found in his camper.

After a week-long hearing to determine the validity of DNA testing, Gallatin County District Judge Larry Moran allowed DNA evidence to be used in Moore’s trial, which the Montana Supreme Court later upheld.

At Moore’s 1992 trial, testimony was heard about DNA, blood found in Moore’s camper, Moore’s attempt to scrub it clean with battery acid and the missing handgun.

Moore testified that he did not kill Brisbin and that the blood in his camper was from a deer he had killed. Prosecutors argued that Moore lied.

The jury found Moore guilty in November 1992. Moran sentenced Moore to 60 years in prison in June 1993.

In 1995, while in prison, Moore was charged with five federal crimes for conspiring to detonate a bomb made from an alarm clock, a battery, wiring and a toothpaste tube stuffed with match heads.

But Moore avoided prosecution on the federal charge after finally admitting to Brisbin’s murder and leading investigators to his body, which was found in a gravel pit near West Yellowstone only 100 yards away from where investigators had searched following Brisbin’s disappearance.

“Things change after five years, but Mr. Moore went directly to the area and he was within 25 feet of where we found the body,” then-Gallatin County Sheriff’s Detective Rob Christie told a Belgrade newspaper in 1995.

Moore also took investigators to the Greek Creek Campground on the Gallatin River where he buried the handgun he used to kill Brisbin.

No matter what the parole board decides, Moore’s sentence is set to expire on Jan. 16, 2023 — six months shy of 30 years after he was sentenced. His 60-year sentence was reduced to 30 years under Montana’s old “good-time” law.

Mark Murphy, who prosecuted Moore for the Montana Attorney General’s Office, will not attend Thursday’s hearing. As part of negotiations that led to Moore showing investigators where Brisbin’s body was buried, the state gave up the right to appear and oppose Moore’s parole.

Members of Brisbin’s family are planning to attend, Brisbin’s son Jeremiah said. The family created an online petition at care2.com opposing the release of Moore. The petition has gathered 1,038 signatures.

The family’s petition urged the parole board to keep Moore in prison, saying that the sentence was too lenient.

“This man took away a loving father, husband, brother, son and friend from this world,” the petition said. “It devastated the Brisbin family, friends and the Gallatin County community.”

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Whitney Bermes can be reached at wbermes@dailychronicle.com or 582-2648. Follow her on Twitter at @wabermes.

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