Check here for big breaking news.


Helena News

Augusta kidnap accused released on bond 

The Lincoln-area man accused of trying to kidnap a woman during the "Dynamite Dash" run in early July has been released on his own recognizance.

Cecil Hale is charged with trying to grab a female contestant while she was running in the half-marathon race.

Hale plead not guilty to the charge on Thursday, and Judge Kathy Seeley set Hale's bond at $20,000.

Prosecutors say the victim in the case is terrified at the prospect of Hale's release.

Hale's defense attorney told Judge Seeley that Hale is not a flight risk, has only one felony on his record, and could live with his brother in Helena.

Hale's defense attorney said there's no evidence to show a violent crime was contemplated in this case. The attorney says Hale was extremely drunk at the time.

Judge Seeley said while she didn't want to minimize the victim's fears, she granted the defense motion, with a long string of conditions, ordering the defendant to live in Helena, enroll in the 24/7 sobriety program, and prohibiting Hale from traveling to the Lincoln area.

Trial has been set for November 3rd.

Hale faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 if convicted

Campbell trial delayed 

The trial of Joseph Campbell, the Augusta-area man accused of killing his neighbor Timothy Newman over a property dispute, has been delayed until next year.

The legal team for Joseph Campbell asked District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock for a continuance in the case, saying they needed more time to prepare for trial; the trial had originally been scheduled to begin in November.

The lawyers say there are 84 people listed as potential witnesses in the case and they need to review the evidence produced by a shooting reconstructionist and other experts .

Prosecutors say Campbell shot Newman in the back after they argued over a locked gate in October 2013; Campbell claimed Newman threatened him.

The two men had been engaged in a long-running dispute over access to public lands on the Diamond Bar X subdivision.

Judge Sherlock granted the motion and a trial date has been set for July 6th, 2015.

The trial is expected to last two to three weeks.

Campbell remains free on $300,000 bond.

Erwin pleads not guilty 

A former employee of Taco Treat in Helena pleaded guilty on Thursday to burglarizing the business.

In a plea deal with prosecutors, 36-year-old David Allen Erwin admitted to burglary in February by forcing open a drive-thru window, stealing petty cash and rolled coins, and breaking open a Keno machine.

Erwin had been fired from Taco Treat a few months before the burglary.

Judge Kathy Seeley sentenced Erwin to 10 ten years with the Montana Department of Corrections, with five of the years suspended.

Erwin was also ordered to pay $5,800 in restitution.

Rideout pleas 

A Helena man has pleaded not guilty to nearly a dozen felonies

.31 year old Brandon Rideout was arraigned in Judge James Reynolds' court, charged with forcing his way into a home on North Rodney in June.

Prosecutors say that Rideout and another suspect began beating four people with their with fists and a metal pole, knocking one victim unconscious.

Rideout is also accused of holding a knife to the throats of at least two of the victims and claiming that he was going to rape a female victim.

In all, Rideout faces eight counts of felony assault with a weapon, one count of felony robbery, and one count of aggravated burglary.

His bond was set at $100,000.

His jury trial has been scheduled for October 14th.

Meth lab arrest  

A Glasgow man has been charged in connection with a one-pot meth lab in East Helena last year.

31 year old Robert Parke Sanders was booked into the Lewis and Clark County Detention Center yesterday morning on a warrant from 2013.

According to court documents,in early may 2013, a detective from the Missouri River Drug Task Force began an investigation after an empty bottle of drain cleaner, liquid fuel and a plastic bottle containing an unknown substance was reported in alley in the 300 block of E. Main in East Helena.

Video footage shows Sanders purchasing two types of drain cleaner at a local business.

Sanders is charged with one count of felony operation of an unlawful clandestine laboratory, which carries a maximum penalty of 50 years in the state prison, a fine of up to $100,000 or both.

BOLO alert

The U.S. Marshals Service has issued a BOLO alert -- Be On the Look-Out -- for Richard Audley Liggett.
Liggett is 58 years old. He is 6-feet tall and weighs about 175 pounds, and has gray hair and blue eyes.
He was convicted... in Yellowstone County of assault with a weapon and in Missoula County for failing to register as a sex or violent offender.
Liggett is listed in state prison records as a parole absconder.
Liggett has also used the names Rick and Tommy Joe.
If you have information about Liggett call the U.S. Marshals Service at 406-247-7030 or your local law enforcement agency.

Reward offered for Crites info

 The family of John Michael Crites, a Birdseye man who disappeared in 2011, is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the case.
Crites was reported missing in June 2011 and his remains were later discovered near MacDonald Pass.
Crites' sister Connie says the family is hoping that somebody who knows something about the case will come forward.
Crites had been involved in a series of disputes with neighbors in his area at the time of his disappearance.
Authorities have been investigating the death as a homicide but have not yet charged anyone.
Anyone with information should call CrimeStoppers at 866 534-5541 or 406-443-2000.


Marijuana grower arrested


A Helena man has been arrested after sheriff's deputies and Helena Police officers found more than 20 marijuana plants growing in and around his residence in the 900 block of 9th Avenue.

Court documents say 30-year-old William Ross Burcar admitted he had been growing marijuana consistently since 2010.

Officers and deputies found 21 marijuana plants, almost 100 grams of marijuana buds a ventilation system, multiple smoking devices, two digital scales and plastic baggies.

Court doucuments say that Burcar admitted that he cares for his 1-year-old daughter at the residence during the daytime and the child's mother confirmed that with investigators, and that led to additional charges against him.


He is charged with one count of felony criminal production or manufacture of dangerous drugs, one count of felony possession of dangerous drugs, one count of felony criminal child endangerment and one count of misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

War College to make final decision on Sen. Walsh
     HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The U.S. Army War College will have the final say over whether any punishment is warranted in a plagiarism investigation against Sen. John Walsh of Montana.
     Spokeswoman Carol Kerr said Wednesday that the Department of Defense and U.S. Army inspectors general will be notified before the release of the findings, but the authority to take disciplinary action remains with the war college.
     Provost Lance Betros previously said the Defense Department had asserted jurisdiction over the investigation because it involved a member of Congress, and the department would decide any sanctions.
     The college asked for and received clarification about that jurisdiction after an Associated Press story reporting Betros' comments.
     A New York Times story showed Walsh used others' work without attribution in a 2007 research paper.
     The school's investigation begins Aug. 15.

Marijuana arrest  

An Helena teen has been arrested after authorities found 70 grams of marijuana in his vehicle after a traffic stop.

According to court documents, a Helena police officer stopped 18 year old Thomas Steven Wilson after he was clocked driving 48 mph in a 35 mph zone westbound on Custer. The officer saw a small red plastic bag in the car's cigarette compartment withlettering spelling "High" on the side of it, and Wilson said the bag had once held Molly, a form of ecstasy, but said the drugs belonged to a friend. There were no drugs in the bag.

Wilson's mother, the registered owner of the vehicle, was called to the scene, and gave consent to search the vehicle. The officer found a water smoking pipe, multiple small bags containing marijuana and a plastic container containing marijuana,

While the officer was speaking with Wilson's mother, the suspect attempted to flee the scene on foot, but was apprehended by another officer who was on scene as backup .

An unopened 12-ounce container of Coors Light, and other empty beer cans and bottles were found in the back of the vehicle, which police say Wilson admtted was his.


Wilson is charged with one count of felony criminal possession with intent to distribute, one count of misdemeanor possession of dangerous drugs, one count of misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, one misdemeanor count of obstructing a peace officer and one misdemeanor count of underage possession of alcohol.

Workers Comp Judicial nominations announced

The Judicial Nomination Commission has sent the names of three attorneys to Gov. Steve Bullock for consideration as the next state workers compensation judge.

The Commission forwarded the names of William Dean Blackaby of Helena, Kay Lynn Lee of Kalispell and David Michael Sandler of Kalispell to Bullock.

The fourth applicant, William O. Bronson of Great Falls, withdrew his application.

Bullock now has 30 days to fill the job that opened up when Workers Compensation Judge Jim Shea resigned to accept appointment as a justice of the Montana Supreme Court. The governor must pick a judge from the list submitted by the commission.

The appointment is subject to Senate confirmation. If confirmed, the new judge will fill the remainder of Shea's term, which expires in September 2017 and is eligible for appointment to a full six-year term. The job pays $117,600 a year.

Haynes fire containted

The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation  says  Haynes Fire is 100 percent contained,
The blaze  burned around 17 acres on private land  near the head of Turk Road since Friday.
With cooler temperatures over the weekend, and little wind, officials have begun releasing fire crews.
Around 25 people including the 20 member Lolo Hotshots, are griding  the area, looking for hot spots, and 
A single fire engine will remain on the scene to ensure the fire does not flare up again


2nd rape arrest 

A second arrest has been made in connection with the rape of a 15-year-old girl that officials says occured earlier this month

County Attorney Leo Gallagher's office says 22 year old Throne G. Blackcrow repeatedly raped a 15-year-old girl who had run away from home on July 8 and was staying at a transient camp in Helena.

23 year old Jordan A. Crooked Foot has also been charged in connection with the rapes.

Lincoln man arrested 

A Lincoln man has been arrested after prosecutors say he threatened a Lewis and Clark County deputy.

Court documents say 43-year-old Robert James Paris was very intoxicated and causing problems around 11:15 p.m. Saturday at Lambkin's Bar. He was arrested after deputies discovered he was on probation, and violating the terms of that probation by consuming alcohol.

While being transported to the Lewis and Clark County Detention Center, Paris began threatening the deputy, saying "I'll kick your ass when released" and "I know you live in Lincoln," the affidavit said.

Court filings say , based upon Paris' "actions, behaviors and criminal history, deputies believed the Defendant would carry out these threats. 

Earthquake rocks Dillon area 

A large earthquake in the Dillon area was reported at about 6:51 Monday morning.

The earthquake studies department at Montana Tech reports the magnitude was 3.6, the epi-centered about 10 miles north of Dillon and 46 miles south of Butte, and about 4.2 miles beneath the surface.

There have been no reports of structural damage to any buildings. Michael Stickney of Montana Tech said there were reports of the quake from Helena, as far east as Ennis and as far west as Salmon, Idaho."

Stickney said it is the largest earthquake in the area in nine years. That quake had a magnitude of 5.6.



Montana News and Sports

     Billings attorney faces 10-month suspension
     (Information in the following story is from: The Billings Gazette,
     BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - A Billings attorney faces a 10-month suspension for withholding information from a judge in an adoption case and hampering investigations into his conduct in two other cases.
     The Billings Gazette reports the Montana Supreme Court filed orders last week that Roy W. Johnson Jr. be suspended practicing law for three months for the adoption case and for another seven months for failing to turn over requested documents in two other cases. The suspensions begin Sept. 1.
     Johnson could not be reached for comment. His office phone number is out of service and no one answered a call to the phone number listed in the court filings.
     Johnson was publicly censured by the Montana Supreme Court in 2008. In February 2011 he was censured and put on probation for two years, and in December 2011 he was suspended for 60 days.
     War College to make final decision on Sen. Walsh
     HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The U.S. Army War College will have the final say over whether any punishment is warranted in a plagiarism investigation against Sen. John Walsh of Montana.
     Spokeswoman Carol Kerr said Wednesday that the Department of Defense and U.S. Army inspectors general will be notified before the release of the findings, but the authority to take disciplinary action remains with the college.
     Provost Lance Betros previously said the Defense Department had asserted jurisdiction over the investigation because it involved a member of Congress, and the department would decide any sanctions.
     The college asked for and received clarification about that jurisdiction after an Associated Press story reporting Betros' comments.
     A New York Times story showed Walsh used others' work without attribution in a 2007 research paper.
     The school's investigation begins Aug. 15.
     California couple guilty in 115-pound pot bust
     COLUMBUS, Mont. (AP) - Two California residents have pleaded guilty to drug charges after being stopped on Interstate 90 in south-central Montana with 115 pounds of marijuana in their rental car.
     The Stillwater County news reports 37-year-old Rick Franklin Voight and 41-year-old Dawn Delores Voight both pleaded guilty on July 24 to criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute.
     Under the plea agreement, both face a five-year commitment to the Department of Corrections with two years suspended when they are sentenced on Sept. 5.
     They were arrested in April after a Montana Highway Patrol trooper pulled them over for speeding. Court records say they appeared nervous and gave conflicting stories about their travel plans.
     The trooper asked for assistance from the Stillwater County K9 unit and officers impounded the car after the dog, Jordy, alerted on it.
     Jockey injured at State Fair race improving
     (Information in the following story is from: Great Falls Tribune,
     GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) - A jockey who was injured during a weekend horse race at the Montana State Fair remains hospitalized, but his condition is improving.
     Bill Christian suffered head injuries on Sunday when his horse fell. The horse suffered a shoulder injury and was euthanized.
     Christian was initially hospitalized in serious condition.
     Benefis Healthcare spokeswoman Karen Ogden told the Great Falls Tribune ( that Christian's condition was upgraded to fair on Wednesday.
     Assault over stolen pork chop nets 15 years
     MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - A 24-year-old transient who was convicted of severely beating another man over the apparent theft of a pork chop has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.
     District Judge Ed McLean of Missoula told Justin Dwayne King on Wednesday that he cannot be trusted to live in society.
     King was convicted of felony assault with a weapon after prosecutors say he beat another man with a metal rod last October and punched the man's girlfriend in the face when she tried to intervene.  One of the police officers testified that the victim's face was so bloody he thought he was wearing a Halloween mask.
     McLean cited the violent attack and King's behavior in jail - including fighting with cellmates and urinating on the walls - in handing down a longer sentence than prosecutors sought.

     Tribe: Remove 'halfbreed' from Montana place names
     HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Leaders of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians say the time has come to remove the words "halfbreed" and "breed" from the names of creeks, lakes and other places around the state.
     Nicholas Vrooman, who works with the tribe, presented a bill draft to that effect during a recent meeting with the State-Tribal Relations Committee. He says the words are racist terms that demean American Indians.
     The bill would require state and other agencies to identify places with the terms and remove them from maps and signs when age or vandalism calls for an update. It would also create an advisory group to determine replacement names.
     Vrooman says 17 places in Montana have the word "halfbreed" or "breed" in the name, including the Halfbreed Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
     The bill comes as the Washington Redskins continue to face a barrage of criticism for having a name that is seen as offensive to Native Americans.
     Judge grants access for oil pipeline operations
     (Information in the following story is from: Great Falls Tribune,
     GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) - A refining company will be able to continue operating three pipelines that transport crude oil from Canada after a federal judge granted access for the final parcel whose easement had expired.
     Phillips 66 had negotiated access agreements with about 600 landowners on the Blackfeet Reservation and pursued a condemnation complaint against the holdout landowners of one parcel.
     The Great Falls Tribune reported Wednesday that U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon ruled in favor of Phillips 66 and ordered the company to pay the landowners $1,450 in compensation.
     Phillips 66 spokesman Michael Barnes says the easements for the three pipelines had expired, so the company had to re-negotiate access.
     The easements were renewed for 47 years.
     The company says the cost of relocating the pipelines would have been $2 million.
     Yellowstone considers quarantine program for bison
     BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Yellowstone National Park is seeking public comment on a proposal to capture and quarantine wild bison before relocating disease-free animals to create new herds.
     Wednesday's announcement comes after the Department of Interior last month identified public lands in 10 states that could be suitable for relocated Yellowstone bison.
     Public meetings on the quarantine proposal are scheduled for Aug. 18 in Gardiner and Aug. 19 in Bozeman.
     Yellowstone's roughly 4,600 bison are prized for their pure genetics. But many carry the disease brucellosis, which can cause pregnant livestock to prematurely abort their young.
     A pilot quarantine program that began in 2005 has had mixed success.  Efforts to relocate about 200 bison that were declared disease-free have been opposed by Montana ranchers worried the animals could compete with cattle for grazing space.
     Alert issued for mother accused of taking 2 kids
     MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - The Montana Department of Justice has issued a missing and endangered children alert for a 6-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl authorities say were taken from Missoula.
     The alert says the children's 30-year-old mother, who does not have custody of the children, took Kyus and Ashlyn Swanson on Tuesday.
     Authorities identified the mother as Fawn Phifer. She is 5 feet, 8 inches tall, weighs 140 pounds and has red hair and brown eyes.
     Kyus has blonde hair and brown eyes and may be missing some front teeth. Ashyln has red hair and brown eyes.
     Anybody with information on their whereabouts are asked to call the Missoula Police Department at 406-552-6291.
     Butte police finding counterfeit $1 bills
     (Information in the following story is from: The Montana Standard,
     BUTTE, Mont. (AP) - Law enforcement officers in Butte are investigating an inefficient and poorly executed counterfeiting effort.
     Butte-Silver Bow Undersheriff George Skuletich says someone used seven fake $1 bills to make a purchase at Hastings over the weekend. Employees discovered the fake cash when they were counting the money.
     The Montana Standard reports an inmate at the Butte Pre-Release Center also tried to use a fake $1 bill to buy a pop from a vending machine on Tuesday.
     Authorities more typically deal with fraudulent $20, $50 and $100 bills.
     Skuletich says the fake cash is softer than real money and while the counterfeiters put different serial numbers on the bills, they aren't cut evenly.
     He adds that counterfeiting $1 bills "just doesn't make a whole lot of sense."
     Man dies in 2-vehicle crash near Marion
     KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) - A 55-year-old man from Kila was killed in a two-vehicle crash about 15 miles west of Kalispell.
     Flathead County officials say Fredrick Clinton Ellis was fatally injured in the crash on U.S. Highway 2 at about 7 p.m. Tuesday.
     The Montana Highway Patrol says Ellis was starting to turn left off the highway when his vehicle was struck by a pickup truck traveling in the same direction in a no-passing zone.
     The driver of the second vehicle and two passengers had minor injuries.
     Livestock board creates panel to address budget
     HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The Montana Board of Livestock has created a panel to address the state agency's budget problems.
     Chairwoman Jan French says the subcommittee will be made up of four board members and will encourage industry groups to help solve the Department of Livestock's funding shortfalls.
     Wednesday's announcement comes two weeks after an interim legislative committee confronted French about a May audit that found the department had used illicit practices to balance its books.
     The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that among the audit's findings, the agency withdrew $197,000 from the state treasury using a prepaid expense account that was not documented for months.
     Livestock department spokesman Steve Merritt said Wednesday the decision to create the budget panel was based on several factors, not only the July 14 legislative hearing and the May audit.
     Bozeman woman sentenced for selling fake diamonds
     (Information in the following story is from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle,
     BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) - A 48-year-old Bozeman woman has been sentenced to 90 days in jail and ordered to pay more than $111,000 in restitution for selling fake diamonds online.
     The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports District Judge Holly Brown also gave Georgia Cold a five-year suspended sentence with the Department of Corrections
     Cold pleaded no contest to felony theft in May in a plea agreement that recommended a three-year deferred sentence, but Brown said Tuesday that Cold wasn't taking responsibility for her actions.
     Court records say Cold placed a Craigslist ad saying she was liquidating an inherited gemstone business. Between May and August of 2012, the man said he bought 70 items from Cold for nearly $90,000. He paid another $22,000 in September for 17 gemstones Cold said were diamonds, but were actually synthetic diamond substitutes.
     Man leaves $38M estate to Billings hospitals
     (Information in the following story is from: The Billings Gazette,
     BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - A Laurel-area farmer who was an astute investor with a passion for poker has left his entire $38 million estate to the two hospitals in Billings.
     Billings Clinic and St. Vincent Healthcare announced their $19 million donations from Paul Metzger on Wednesday. Metzger died on May 6 at the age of 97.
     The Billings Gazette reports both hospitals will put the money into endowments and are free to use it however they see fit. It is the largest gift the two hospitals have ever received.
     Metzger's obituary said he learned farming and "playing in the stock market" from his father and he was an astute investor, despite only having an eighth-grade education. He also enjoyed playing blackjack and poker.




Jay Scott wins two state awards

WHITEFISH (Montana Broadcasters Association) -- For the ninth year in a row, KBLL Radio's Jay Scott has won several awards from the Montana Broadcasters Association.
Jay finished second for three of the "EB's," the E.B Craney awards: one as Sportscaster of the Year, one for Sports Enterprise of the Year. 
The Enterprise award recognizes contributions both in radio play-by-play and other areas.
Jay has been either first or second for the Newscaster of the Year award for the past 8 years as well, but could not enter this year's contest because of a schedule conflict.
The “EB Awards” are named in memory of Montana broadcast pioneer Ed Craney. The “EB's” recognize excellence in local news, production, promotion and public service. The awards will be presented during the Montana Broadcasters Association convention on Saturday, June 21st in Whitefish.