Prosecutors still lack a start date for the upcoming trial of suspected thrill killer Anthony St. Dennis, but the case nevertheless took off last week. St. Dennis, a Hellgate High School senior at the time of the crime, faces homicide charges in the Dec. 5 stomping death of local transient Forrest “Clay” Salcido on Missoula’s California Street footbridge.
On March 5, Judge John Larson issued a warrant to seize a letter that was recently intercepted from St. Dennis’ outgoing mail by Missoula County Sheriff’s deputies. Prosecutors successfully argued that the letter—sent to a Temple Sicard, of Richfield, Utah—contained relevant evidence, including further mention of the alleged crime and a possible threat against a witness.
“This ‘white guy’ is saying’s it all me; he needz to change his story,” St. Dennis writes in the letter to Sicard. “If he don’t, it’z his own grave.”
The “white guy” referred to in the letter could be 20-year-old alleged accomplice Dustin Strahan, a key witness against St. Dennis.
Strahan reported the Dec. 5 attack to detectives shortly after the incident took place, claiming that he and St. Dennis had stopped Salcido from perpetrating a rape. The story fell apart under further questioning. Police say Strahan admits to taking part in the beating but says he tried to stop St. Dennis from dealing the fatal blows. Court records also attest to a phone conversation recorded shortly after St. Dennis’ arrest, in which, investigators argue, the 18-year-old admitted to the Salcido homicide.
The Independent telephoned detectives on the case and County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg in an attempt to verify that Strahan was the target of the perceived threat. As of press time, neither had returned calls.
In the letter to Sicard, St. Dennis acknowledges that he will have to do a “grip of time” in prison, but states that it doesn’t bother him. He goes on to describe the county corrections facility as a
“cakewalk” and his attorneys as “public pretenders.”
“I know what I do is best, plus I am proud of who I grew up 2 be,” St. Dennis writes. He lists several self-ascribed qualities: “Crazy, tough, mouthie, [and] street smart.” He signs the letter “Deuce.”