Conrad man's suicide in police custody remains a mystery—(

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Montana news station

Posted: May 20, 2009 06:55 PM CDT 

Updated: May 20, 2009 07:38 PM CDT A Coroner’s inquest rules Conrad man’s death suicide
Reporting for KRTV


A jury found a 59-year-old Conrad man decided to take his own life rather than go back to jail.

But the question remains: how was a registered violent offender able to shoot himself while in the custody of the Pondera County Sheriff?

Terry York had several run-ins with the law, and in February he was taken back into custody.

But York was sick and needed a cane to walk; he asked the sheriff if he could go home and get medication and feed his horses.

The sheriff took him back to the home that York shared with his ex-wife, Mary Kay Mallow.

At Wednesday’s coroner’s inquest,York’s ex-wife said they saw him move the bales of hay, but instead of putting the tractor away, he headed out into the middle of the field and shut it off.

Mallow said, “All of a sudden we heard a pop. And Sheriff Kuka asked me if my tractor backfired. I said no. It never backfired before.”

The Medical Examiner found York had shot himself with a .357 revolver.

The sheriff testified York didn’t appear to have the gun before being taken into custody, and after being taken into custody he was being watched almost the whole time.

So the question remained for investigators: where did York get the gun that day?

Agent Shane Shaw of the Montana Division of Criminal Investigations said, “I never found anything, any holster, any ammunition, anything like that.”

The sheriff says it would have been illegal for a registered violent offender like York to have a gun.

A search found the gun was last registered in 1976 to a company in Great Falls.

Mallow, York’s ex-wife, said they had friends who had worked at the company.

But it’s still unclear how the former Reserve Deputy got the gun.

Both the sheriff and Mallow testified that York showed no signs of suicidal thoughts, although the Medical Examiner said York was taking anti-depressants.

The jury today agreed with the examiner that York’s death was a suicide.