Cold-case murder of Kathryn Laird in Montana will be featured on “Dateline” — (3 KRTV)

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3 KRTV

Posted: Jul 28, 2016 9:58 AM EDTUpdated: Jul 28, 2016 3:20 PM EDT

By: Aja Goare – MTN News

Brian Laird was convicted for Kathryn’s death and sentenced last month to 100 years in the Montana State Prison.
Kathryn Laird’s body was found in the Big Horn River

Brian Laird (Jail booking photo)

NBC’s “Dateline” program on Friday will profile the mysterious death of Kathryn Laird, “a beautiful young woman found in the Montana wilderness.”Her husband Brian Laird, a former Billings attorney, was accused of strangling and drowning Kathryn; he was convicted in May, and sentenced in June to 100 years in the Montana State Prison.

The case went “cold” until it was reopened in 2012 with new testimony from neighbors about Brian Laird’s violent temper.

“For over 16 years, this violent homicide went unsolved,” said Assistant Attorney General Brant Light.

Prior to being sentenced, Laird spoke for the first time in the case.

“I did not do this,” said Laird. “To this day, I still don’t know what happened to Kathryn.”

The Dateline program airs on Friday, July 29th.

In recent months, Dateline has featured two other Montana murder cases:

(JUNE 10, 2016) A former Billings attorney who was found guilty at trial of killing his wife in 1999 was sentenced to 100 years in prison on Friday.

Brian Laird, 46, was sentenced in Big Horn County District Court to 100 years to the Montana State Prison without any parole restrictions.

Prosecutors had requested a sentence of life without parole.

The defense called that recommendation “outrageous” and requested a 40-year sentence.

Heather Edwards, the pre-sentencing investigation author, was called to testify about her opinion of Laird.

Laird had been charged in 2008 with burglary in Colorado, but was convicted of a lesser charge.

In that situation, Laird apparently broke into a home and cut up things in the home with scissors because a roommate stole his medical marijuana, Edwards said.

Upon reviewing Laird’s drug use history, Laird was found to have used prescription drugs heavily.

“He did not believe he had a prescription drug addiction,” said Edwards.

Edwards said she had also found from prescription information that Laird had aggression issues and bipolar disorder.

Laird had told his doctors many different things about his wife’s death, ranging from suicide to a boating accident, explaining he needed medication for his depression.

“It appears that in the time since her passing, he’s had a hard time coping in society,” said Edwards.

Edwards recommended Laird be sentenced to prison for 100 years.

The next witness called to testify was the victim’s mother, Mary Lou Little.

Little said she learned of her daughter’s death from Laird on the phone.

“He just blurted it out, he said ‘Kathryn’s dead,'” said Little.

Little said she didn’t sense any emotion in Laird’s voice when he told her that his wife had died.

Little became emotional when she was asked to describe seeing her daughter at the mortuary.

“She looked old, tired,” said Little.

Little said her family never recover from the loss of Kathryn.

“It was just devastating. She had her whole life ahead of her,” said Little. “She was going to become a veterinarian.”

Little said she wanted Laird to be sentenced to prison for life without parole.

“Kathryn was a beautiful woman,” said Little. “She was beautiful and happy and he took it all away.”

Sherry Harper, the victim’s sister, also testified.

Harper said Kathryn was a strong swimmer and she did not believe the news that her sister drowned accidentally.

Harper said she has not had the chance to grieve for her sister’s death since the day she learned she had died.

“All of the holidays were Kathryn’s favorite,” said Harper. “After she died, we didn’t celebrate them anymore.”

Selvy asked Harper how she learned of her sister’s death.

“Brian Laird told me she committed suicide, with pills and alcohol,” said Harper.

Prosecutors recommended life without parole.

“For over 16 years, this violent homicide went unsolved,” said Assistant Attorney General Brant Light.

The defense requested a 40-year prison sentence due to possible “mitigating circumstances.”

Prior to sentencing, Laird spoke for the first time in the case.

“I did not do this,” said Laird. “To this day, I still don’t know what happened to Kathryn.”