Archives for December 2016

Montana Man Denied Request to Withraw Plea

An Anaconda, Montana man and Oregon federal refuge occupier Ryan Payne, has been denied a request to withdraw his guilty plea by a federal judge. U.S. District Judge Anna Brown ruled Wednesday that Payne’s plea in the Oregon case wasn’t, as his attorney argued, contingent on reaching a plea agreement in another case against him in Nevada. Brown wrote in her 32-page ruling that Payne’s factual statements supporting his guilty plea were both thorough and unequivocal.
Payne, of Anaconda, acknowledged in July that he conspired with others to obstruct Interior Department employees during their 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. He’s one of 11 defendants to plead guilty before others in the case went to trial and were found not guilty. Payne was one of three co-defendants who filed motions to withdraw guilty pleas. In Nevada, he’s accused of organizing “armed protection” in the 2014 standoff over Cliven Bundy’s cattle.

Man Skips Out On Trial, Forgets GPS Monitor

This is not considered to be a viable legal strategy; Don’t just skip out if your trial isn’t going well… especially if you’re wearing a GPS monitor!
A mistrial was declared Thursday after defendant Alfred John Abella failed to appear for the second day of his trial. The 49-year-old Abella was arrested at 10 a.m. Thursday near Two Moon Park after failing to appear at 9 a.m. in Yellowstone County District Court… seemingly forgetting Judge Gregory Todd ordered he be monitored by a GPS device as part of his pre-trial release agreement. Abella was on trial for assaulting a man with a hatchet. Chief Deputy County Attorney Juli Pierce said Abella had been “quite busy” on Wednesday night, committing “significant violations of the release order.” Todd ordered Abella be tested for drugs and alcohol. He’s being held in place of an additional $50,000 bond. Abella had already posted a $25,000 bond prior to trial.

Pursuit Through Billings Wednesday

A police chase through Billings Wednesday afternoon resulted in the arrest of two people, while a third offender remains at large. The pursuit began on Main Street in the Heights when Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Woody Bateman ran the license plate on a red vehicle traveling north. Bateman said the plates belonged to another vehicle. When he flipped on his lights to pull them over, the driver turned around and went south on Main. A second highway patrol car joined the chase as it moved into the area of Sixth Avenue North. The car was running stop signs and red lights, and Bateman lost sight of the car.
A bystander saw the car pull into the Lewis and Clark Inn. Three people ran from the car, two of whom were arrested. Bateman said narcotics and warrants are involved. The Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office and Billings Police are assisting in the manhunt.

Zoning Commission Considers New Grocery Complex

The Billings Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing to discuss a proposed shopping complex. The new 57,000-square-foot grocery store complex with a drive-through pharmacy and other retail space has been proposed for the corner of Grand Avenue and 54th Street West in Billings.
The Zoning Commission hearing will take place at 4:30 p.m. next Tuesday, January 3, 2017, at the Miller building, 2328 Third Avenue North, on the proposal for the northeast corner of the intersection on the West End.
The city is requiring a special review of the proposal because of the drive-through window and potential for added traffic. CTA Architects wrote that the property owner, Bishop Fox Co., intends to build screening around the drive-through’s east side.The eight-acre property is currently an empty field in front of a residential area. The new Ben Steele Middle School is currently being built nearby at 56th Street West on Grand Avenue.

Billings Ethics Board Votes Itself Away

Members of the Billings Ethics Board took the highly unusual step of voting themselves out of existence on Tuesday, but the final judgement on the fate of the board will be in the hands of the City Council next month. Councilors will have to decide how they want ethics complaints to be handled in the future. The Ethics Board met with City Attorney Brent Brooks and City Administrator Tina Volek yesterday, then voted 3-0 to eliminate most of what’s written in the Billings City Code about ethics, presumably because similar ethics language already exists at the state level.
During a January work session, the City Council directed Brooks to find out how other Montana cities handle ethics complaints. Brooks also eliminated– at the council’s request– most of the language contained in city code regarding ethics, while leaving some items intact. Brooks said the eliminated material concerning ethics is found in state statutes.

Billings Bike Thief Wanted All Over Montana

27-year-old Brandon Antonio Murphy, who asked to test ride a bike in Billings in 2015, was wanted on separate warrants for his arrest in Bozeman, Missoula and Billings. Murphy went to The Spoke Shop, 1910 Broadwater last September, where he asked to test ride one of the bikes, according to charging documents. He then took off with the bike, which was found two days later at Yuppie Pawn in Kirkland, Wash. In August, a $5,000 warrant was issued for Murphy’s arrest. However, Murphy was also wanted in Missoula for aggravated assault and felony partner or family member assault. A $150,000 warrant was issued for Murphy’s arrest, in addition to a $2,500 warrant for a separate case out of Missoula.
Murphy was arrested after being identified in the theft of the expensive bicycle from a Billings shop in 2015. He appeared in Billings Tuesday, charged with felony theft in Yellowstone County Justice Court.

Passages Christmas Escape Attempt

24-year-old Cinnamon Maray O’Donnell was arrested by police and another woman has hospitalized after attempting to flee Alternatives’ Passages correctional facility Christmas night through a third floor window.
O’Donnell was sentenced on Nov. 22 to five years with the Department of Corrections. She has felony convictions for theft, criminal endangerment and possession of dangerous drugs. The women were being housed on the alcohol and drug treatment level, according to Alternatives CEO David Armstrong, who confirmed the women were attempting to escape the building through the third floor window. O’Donnell was taken to the Yellowstone County Detention Facility. Her accomplice was taken to the hospital with a broken leg.
The two women being treated on the third floor for substance abuse, a stay of anywhere from 60 to 90 days at the inpatient treatment center before rejoining the community. Billings Police Sgt. Matt Lennick said they were called a little before 9 p.m.

Posted to kctr.vncnews.com
Dec. 27, 2016 9:39 AM CST
by rhancock

Teacher Shortages Critical in Special Ed

Amidst an overall shortage of teachers, those qualified in Special education are in greatest demand. Theresa Lombardi’s mother taught special education in Deer Lodge, and her family adopted several children with special needs. Theresa sais she grew up taking care of siblings with special needs. She’s now a first-year Elder Grove special education teacher, who says that’s what she’s used to and always wanted to do.
But that kind of experience isn’t typical, and teacher shortages in special education are more severe than in any other subject area, according to the latest version of an Office of Public Instruction teacher shortage report.
As concerns about the growing national shortage of qualified teachers continues, rural school administrators say that their longtime struggles to recruit and retain teachers have reached “crisis” levels. Schools had twice as many special education vacancies than any other subject, according to the OPI report, and it’s not just in small towns.

Passages Inmates Attempt Christmas Escape

24-year-old Cinnamon Maray O’Donnell was arrested by police and another woman has hospitalized after attempting to flee Alternatives’ Passages correctional facility Christmas night through a third floor window.
O’Donnell was sentenced on Nov. 22 to five years with the Department of Corrections. She has felony convictions for theft, criminal endangerment and possession of dangerous drugs. The women were being housed on the alcohol and drug treatment level, according to Alternatives CEO David Armstrong, who confirmed the women were attempting to escape the building through the third floor window. O’Donnell was taken to the Yellowstone County Detention Facility. Her accomplice was taken to the hospital with a broken leg.
The two women being treated on the third floor for substance abuse, a stay of anywhere from 60 to 90 days at the inpatient treatment center before rejoining the community. Billings Police Sgt. Matt Lennick said they were called a little before 9 p.m.

Inmates Plead Guilty to Assault

Four inmates at the county jail pleaded guilty to assaulting a fellow prisoner at about 11 p.m. on Dec. 14. The prisoners pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault when they appeared in Yellowstone County Justice Court Thursday. Justice of the Peace Pedro Hernandez did not order the men to serve any additional jail time as all are already incarcerated. He did warn them they may have to pay restitution to the victim. The victim suffered a cracked rib and nose, according to a police report. He had bruises to his back, shoulders and on his face.
The attack occurred in the medium security unit of the jail. One man, Derek Bruce Bigman, was in the cell when surveillance video showed the victim and another inmate, Ivan Wayne Wiggins waiting outside the door while the victim went inside. Inmate Brian Thomas Morales entered the cell. He was joined by Richard Daniel White and both men went inside.