Children testify against their father in homicide trial

December 6, 2019 GMT

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — The children of a Montana man charged with killing his estranged wife nearly two years ago have testified against him.

Joseph “Paul” DeWise of Bozeman is on trial for deliberate homicide in the death of Lauren Walder DeWise and attempted deliberate homicide for shooting and critically injuring her housemate, Ashley Van Hemert.

Joe DeWise, 17, testified Thursday that he was with his father when he drove to Belgrade late on Jan. 6, 2018. He said they donned knit face masks and rubber gloves and his father kicked open the door of a house where his stepmother, Lauren DeWise, was living.


Joe said he followed his father upstairs where his father shot Van Hemert in one room and Lauren DeWise in another. He said they ran back to the car and stopped at a convenience store on the way back to Bozeman. Prosecutors showed an image from security video of Paul DeWise entering the store.

“I sat in the car. I was having trouble breathing,” Joe testified. “I don’t think I could move. I felt like I was going to throw up.”

Back at home, Joe said his father told him to get rid of the gun. He said he threw it in a pond less than a mile from their house. People who were ice fishing found the .22 caliber pistol and police recovered it.

Natalie DeWise, 19, testified Wednesday that her father woke her up early on Jan. 7, 2018, and said he “had done something bad.”

She said he told her he had shot Lauren DeWise. Then they went to church.

Natalie said her father told her not to tell anybody about his confession and initially she didn’t. She described her father as a violent and controlling person who was abusive to her stepmother.

She also testified that her father called her from jail and asked her to convince Joe to report himself to law enforcement as the shooter, saying he would get little jail time. She said she couldn’t do that because it wasn’t the truth.

In response to questions from defense attorneys, both children said they were coached by their father to say the family stayed home that night and watched movies and that’s what they initially told police.

The trial is scheduled to continue Friday and into next week.