The killing of Alton Barron

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SANDPOINT — Vengeance and jealousy appear the have been the motives behind the killing of Alton William Barron in 1979.

Barron was shot to death in Sandpoint by Jesse Earl Scroggie, whose wife, Ellen, was in the process of divorcing him. Barron, 53, was said to be engaged to Ellen Scroggie at the time of his killing.

The following narrative emerged in Scroggie’s Idaho Court of Appeals case:

Jesse Scroggie operated a used car lot/gas station/bar in Bonners Ferry and allegedly received several taunting phone calls from Barron. In the last call, Barron allegedly stated that Ellen Scroggie had been raped and was in bad shape.

Ellen Scroggie came on the line, prompting Jesse Scroggie to ask in Portuguese whether she was in danger. Her reply implied that she was not in danger, but the conversation ended abruptly.

Believing his wife was under the hypnotic control of Barron, Jesse Scroggie and his two teenage sons drove to Sandpoint the following day. Jesse Scroggie was armed with a .357 revolver and had $300 in his pocket in case Ellen Scroggie needed medical treatment.

Upon arriving at Ellen Scroggie’s Sandpoint apartment, the sons positioned themselves at the front door, while Jesse Scroggie entered the residence through a sliding back-patio door. The elder Scroggie testified that Barron was seated at a kitchen table and it appeared as though Ellen Scroggie had been beaten.

Scroggie told jurors that Barron pushed the table away from him and drew a gun on Jesse Scroggie, who pulled his drew his own weapon and fired several times.

Jesse Scroggie was arrested when he returned to Bonners Ferry. While being driven to Sandpoint, the handcuffed man opened the door to the vehicle and attempted to jump from it while it was traveling approximately 70 mph.

At trial, Scroggie argued he acted either in the defense of himself or that of his estranged wife. To support its theory of first-degree murder, the state noted that Scroggie had fired seven bullets at Barron, meaning he would had to reload the pistol in order fire the last shot.

Jurors found Scroggie guilty of second-degree murder. He was ordered to serve a 35-year-sentence for murder, plus a consecutive term of up to 15 years for using a firearm in the commission of a crime.

Scroggie, 88, was discharged from the state’s penal system in 1988, according to the Idaho Department of Correction’s website.

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