A man accused of murdering his estranged wife and shooting a second woman in Belgrade appeared in Gallatin County Justice Court this morning and was ordered held on $800,000 bail.

Joseph Paul DeWise, 47, was arrested Thursday and charged with deliberate homicide in connection with breaking into the Belgrade home of Lauren Walder DeWise, 35, and fatally shooting her sometime early Sunday morning.

Also injured in the shooting was 32-year-old Ashley Van Hemert, police say. They said the investigation is ongoing and more charges are likely in the near future.

In court Friday, Gallatin County Chief Deputy Attorney Eric Kitzmiller argued for $1 million bail. He said alcohol also appeared to play a role in the crime and asked for alcohol monitoring.

“This is a very serious offense,” Kitzmiller said.

Defense attorney Valerie Cairns argued for $50,000 bail, saying that amount is more reasonable and the defendant is presumed innocent.

“I believe $1 million bail in this case is quite high,” Cairns said.

Gallatin County Justice Court Judge Bryan Adams opted for a lower bail than the state requested. Adams said he instead was choosing a high level of supervision if Paul were to post bail, ordering him to wear a GPS and an alcohol monitor if released.

According to charging documents:

On Sunday, Belgrade police were dispatched to a home at 1306 Idaho St., after a woman reported that her roommates had been shot.

There, police found Lauren dead and Van Hemert injured and asking for help. Van Hemert was taken to the hospital.

The woman who reported the incident identified Paul as the suspect, saying that Lauren had recently ended an abusive relationship with Paul and moved in with the woman in November.

Other coworkers and friends of Lauren’s also reported to police who said that Lauren had said Paul was physically abusing her, and that they had seen bruising on Lauren multiple times.

On Sunday, law enforcement detained Paul after a traffic stop near his home on Silver Maple Drive in Bozeman.

Throughout an interview with investigators, Paul repeatedly denied any involvement in Lauren’s death. He said he had spent Saturday watching TV with his kids — ages 17, 15 and 4 — until about midnight.

He said during the night, he and his oldest son went to a nearby gas station to buy a six-pack of beer. Paul said they went back home, he drank three beers and the three kids went to bed at about 2 a.m.

The next morning, Paul said he took his kids to church and he was returning home when he was stopped by law enforcement.

Paul described a tumultuous relationship between he and Lauren, saying the relationship had deteriorated during the summer. He said he lost his temper with her in the past and was mean to her, but said he had never physically injured her. He went on to say that she had gotten physical with him in the past.

Following the interview, Paul was released from custody.

During the investigation, investigators found footprints in the backyard that were consistent with footprints found at Paul’s Bozeman home. The prints were also similar to a pair of boots at Wal-Mart, where Paul’s coworker told investigators he had taken Paul to buy work boots recently.

At Paul’s home, investigators also found .22-caliber ammunition that was consistent to the shell casings found at the shooting scene.

On Paul’s cellphone, investigators found numerous text messages sent to Lauren on Saturday evening in which he tried getting her to go to church with him the next morning.

Lauren responded once at about 11 p.m., saying she was not interested. There were messages between the two around 1 a.m., when Paul sent two messages begging her to see him. She did not respond.

At about 3 a.m., Paul sent a message saying he couldn’t sleep and that he was thinking about her. That message was sent about an hour after he had told investigators he went to sleep.

Location services on Paul’s phone were turned off between Dec. 28 and Jan. 7. They were turned back on at about 9:15 a.m. Sunday.

Investigators also interviewed Paul’s three children. The older children gave a similar account to Paul’s saying they had been with their dad Saturday night into Sunday morning and had spent the night watching movies. The older child said he went with Paul to a gas station to get Paul beer.

If convicted, Paul faces up to life in prison. Because he is alleged to have used a gun, a weapons enhancement of 10 years could be tacked on to any sentence he could receive.

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

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