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Thursday, July 28th 2016
Associated Press Montana News
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MDT

Man shot, killed after stabbing sheriff's deputy

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Phillips County sheriff's deputy shot and killed a man during a confrontation along U.S. Highway 191 southwest of Malta.

The Department of Justice says Deputy Alan Guderjahn was stabbed several times and is recovering at a Great Falls hospital.

The DOJ says Guderjahn responded to a call about a suspicious man walking along the highway early Wednesday. When Guderjahn confronted the man, the suspect attacked and stabbed him. Guderjahn shot and killed the suspect.

The man's name, age and hometown have not been released.

Keri Garman, a spokeswoman for Benefis Health System, tells The Great Falls Tribune that Guderjahn was listed in good condition Wednesday afternoon.

The state's Division of Criminal Investigation is looking into the confrontation.


Montana women's basketball coach Robin Selvig retires

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Long time Montana women's basketball coach Robin Selvig announced his retirement Wednesday.

Selvig, who turns 64 next month, announced his decision on the university's website and said he will be at the school until the end of August.

He coached at Montana for 38 years and won 865 games — tied for seventh on the Division I career list. Selvig built the Lady Griz into one of the better mid-major programs in the country. They had 36 winning seasons under him, including appearing in the NCAA Tournament 21 times.

"Over 38 years, there weren't many days It wasn't excited to come to work, but I've started to lose that excitement," Selvig said in the release. "The players have always given me their best. When you wear down a little, you start to wonder: Can I still give them my best?"

The Lady Griz were 20-11 last season.

The Big Sky Conference school will hold a press conference Thursday.

Selvig was a star player for Montana, playing his final three seasons under coach Jud Heathcote.


Nationally high cherry prices help Flathead Lake growers

(Information from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com)

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — High cherry prices across the nation have helped cherry growers in northwestern Montana stay afloat even as recent heavy rains have damaged some of the local crop.

The Missoulian reports that president of the Flathead Lake Cherry Growers Bruce Johnson says the rainfall has forced orchards to do more sorting to cull out cherries, but growers are still able to pick because of the high prices.

Bigfork grower Dale Nelson says prices are $55 to $62 a box, nearly double the usual mid-$30 range.

The Flathead Lake harvest will continue for less than a week.

Johnson's group is a co-op comprised of roughly two-thirds of the area's nearly 90 commercial orchards. He expects the 2016 crop to be around 2 million pounds.



Supreme Court rules against county in wrongful death case

(Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Supreme Court has ruled that Big Horn County erred in dismissing the wrongful death case of a man who died from injuries sustained in a crash after a high-speed chase.

The Billings Gazette reports Kenneth Woody IV's estate submitted a claim letter in 2014 alleging the county was responsible for his 2011 death. The estate followed up with a lawsuit six months later after county commissioners didn't respond to the letter.

The state high court's decision Tuesday reverses a lower court ruling in December that dismissed the case on the grounds that the three-year statute of limitation expired.

The justices faulted the county for failing to respond promptly to the initial claim letter.

Woody had been the passenger in a vehicle that crashed after leading authorities on a chase near Hardin.



Havre woman charged with stealing $130,000 from bank

(Information from: Havre Daily News, http://www.havredailynews.com)

HAVRE, Mont. (AP) — A Havre bank teller has been charged with embezzling nearly $130,000 from her employer over several years.

The Havre Daily News reported Tuesday that Peggy Teel acknowledged the theft to police.

Teel, who worked as head teller at Bear Paw Credit Union, is charged with one felony count of theft by embezzlement.

She's set to enter a plea at a state District Court hearing on Aug. 15.

Charging documents say Teel told police that she stole in small amounts from fellow tellers' cash drawers as well as a bank ATM.

The documents say that Bear Paw's vice president, Gerry Veis, reported that the credit union had been having unexplained shortages of cash going back to 2007.



Man sentenced for scratching initials into Roosevelt Arch

GARDINER, Mont. (AP) — A Texas man has been sentenced to three days in jail and ordered to pay $250 in restitution for carving his initials into the iconic Roosevelt Arch at the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

Park officials say a visitor spotted 26-year-old Dakota D. Tipton of Joshua, Texas, scratching the initials "DDT" into the keystone above a small walkway arch on one side of the larger arch on June 10.

Tipton appeared via phone for sentencing Tuesday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Carman in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming. The U.S. Marshal's Service will determine where Tipton will serve his sentence.

President Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone to the 50-foot-tall arch in April 1903. The inscription on top reads: "For the benefit and enjoyment of the people."

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Wednesday, July 27th 2016
Associated Press Montana News
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT

Petitioners seek more disclosure on fracking chemicals

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Landowners, environmentalists and public health workers are asking Montana regulators to require companies to more fully divulge which "fracking" chemicals they use to produce oil and gas.

A 2011 state rule allows companies to conceal chemicals they consider trade secrets.

Critics say the trade secrets exception represents an unlawful loophole, violating the public's right to know about chemicals that threaten public health.

A coalition represented by the environmental law firm Earthjustice on Tuesday petitioned the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation to tighten its rules.

Earthujustice attorney Katherine O'Brien says companies should have to justify any fracking ingredients withheld, as is done in Wyoming.

Board administrator Jim Halvorson says the 2011 rule has been adequate. It requires proprietary ingredients to be released if needed after a fracking fluids spill.


Judge won't delay former doctor's negligent homicide trial

(Information from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com)

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A state judge has denied a motion to delay the negligent homicide trial of a former Florence physician who is charged with over-prescribing pain medication to patients, including two who died of overdoses.

The Missoulian reports District Judge Jeffrey Langton ruled Monday that 67-year-old Chris Christensen must either hire an attorney or represent himself at his October trial on the 400 felony charges.

Christensen was initially assigned public defenders, but the court found he had the means to hire his own attorney. He has since said he is trying to find representation and intends to file for bankruptcy, which might make him eligible for a public defender.

Langton said in the months since making those claims, Christensen has done neither. Langton's order said Christensen does not have the right to take no initiative.



Gianforte sends 'cease and desist' letter to TV stations

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — An attorney for Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte has sent letters to television stations urging them to stop airing an attack ad against him.

The cease and desist letter from Anita Milanovich says the ad by Good Jobs Montana PAC is "false and misleading" and stations should refuse to air it.

Milanovich writes the ad contains false claims, such as Gianforte is a "millionaire from New Jersey" and that he "sued to eliminate a popular public access spot."

Gianforte is from California and grew up in Pennsylvania. He filed a lawsuit against the state in 2009 over a dispute about an easement next to his property, but resolved the issue out of court.

The Montana Broadcasters Association is counseling television stations to consult their attorneys about whether to continue airing the ads.


Police officer charged with beating girlfriend, on leave

(Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Laurel police officer who is charged with assaulting his girlfriend until she lost consciousness has been placed on leave.

The Billings Gazette reports 46-year-old Jim Huertas appeared in Billings Municipal Court on Monday and pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor partner or family member assault. He was released after posting a $500 bond and was ordered not to contact his girlfriend. His next court appearance is set for September.

Court records say the woman reported Huertas punched her several times during an argument before knocking her down and kicking her until she lost consciousness.

Huertas told investigators the woman hit him, but he did not hit her.

Laurel Police Chief Rick Musson said Huertas, who has been an officer for 9 years, was put on administrative leave after his arrest.



Coroner's office employees have new office, supervisor

(Information from: Independent Record, http://www.helenair.com)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The longtime Lewis and Clark County coroner is no longer supervising two employees.

County chief administrative officer Eric Bryson tells the Independent Record that he is supervising the employees, who have been moved to a temporary office. Bryson declined to say why the staffers were relocated.

Coroner Mickey Nelson came under fire after the state threatened to seek a court order to have him complete 51 death certificates that had been filed with the cause of death listed as "pending" because lab or autopsy results had not come in. Two of the certificates dated back to 2011. Nelson got the work done by the mid-July deadline.

Bryson said he plans to seek help from local law enforcement to inventory the coroner's evidence room. A former deputy coroner said the office was disorganized and in disarray.



US authorities seek warrant for tribal shield in Paris

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal authorities in New Mexico are seeking a warrant for the return of an Acoma Pueblo shield from a Paris auction house that has come under criticism for selling Native American ceremonial items.

Prosecutors requested the warrant in a federal court filing Monday that argues there's reason to believe the shield was stolen sometime in the 1970s before eventually being sent to France — where U.S. laws prohibiting the sale of tribal ceremonial items typically hold no weight.

It's unclear whether the French government would allow for the U.S. Marshal Service or another federal agency to seize items under a warrant approved by an American judge.

The shield was set for sale at Paris' EVE auction house in May. Auction organizers pulled the item after Acoma Pueblo produced paperwork alleging the shield was stolen.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tuesday, July 26th 2016
Associated Press Montana News
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT

Tribal official goes to trial over contaminated water probe

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The former head of the Chippewa Cree Tribe's water department is going to trial over allegations that he lied to federal authorities investigating a contaminated drinking water tank.

Jonathan Jay Eagleman has pleaded not guilty to making false statements to a federal agency. He demanded a jury trial, which is scheduled to get underway Monday.

Federal prosecutors say a tribal water department employee found wooden boards, concrete and animal feces had been thrown into the tank on Aug. 30, 2012.

The department did not notify the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as is required whenever a drinking water source is compromised. The tank was shut down, but the existing water remained in the system for nearly a month.

Prosecutors say Eagleman lied by telling EPA officials that the break-in was only discovered on Sept. 24.


Third person charged in woman's death on Crow reservation

(Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A third person has been charged in the death of a woman who was beaten and burned on the Crow Indian Reservation.

The Billings Gazette reports Frank James Sanchez pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court on Monday, as did co-defendants Dimarzio Swade Sanchez and Angelica Jo Whiteman.

All three are charged with first-degree murder for the April 17 attack that left 28-year-old Roylynn Rides Horse with burns over 45 percent of her body. She died in a Salt Lake City hospital.

The indictment alleges that Rides Horse left a bar with the 18-year-old Dimarzio Sanchez, 23-year-old Whiteman and four others. Investigators say an argument ensued and Rides Horse was beaten and choked before being doused with gasoline and set on fire in a field east of Crow Agency.



Drone operator who flew over wildfire under investigation

(Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Authorities are considering criminal charges against the operator of a drone that hampered firefighting efforts during a wildfire near Billings.

The Billings Gazette reports that the unmanned aircraft had been seized after it interfered with firefighting aircraft on Friday. Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder says the aircraft had to be grounded and the incident cost firefighters several hours of air support.

Authorities located the drone operator, who Linder says seemed to know he had been doing something illegal. A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration says the man faces fines of up to $27,500 in addition to criminal prosecution.

The fire, which began Friday, quickly burned more than 2 square miles and was determined 90 percent contained Sunday. It destroyed one home and forced the evacuation of several others.



Helena man accused in shooting death sets jail cell on fire

(Information from: Independent Record, http://www.helenair.com)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Helena man accused of fatally shooting another man has appeared before a judge for setting fire to his jail cell.

KTVH-TV reports Monday that Austin Kroll-McLaughlin told Justice of the Peace Mike Swingly that he lit the fire on Sunday.

Firefighters responded and put out the fire, which detention officer say was set with a paper clip and a battery.

Kroll-McLaughlin told the judge he had been experiencing mental distress. Swingly sentenced him to 10 days with five days suspended.

The 18-year-old Kroll-McLaughlin is charged with deliberate homicide for the shooting death of 20-year-old Ryan Eakin on July 7. He also is charged with tampering with evidence for trying to get rid of the gun.

He is awaiting arraignment.



Sheriff: Hiker collapses, dies in Stillwater County

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Stillwater County authorities say a hiker collapsed and died while hiking on a trail near the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.

Sheriff Cliff Brophy said in a statement Monday that 47-year-old Scott Marchant collapsed Saturday afternoon near the Mystic Lake area.

Other hikers stopped and attempted to resuscitate Marchant until a search and rescue team arrived and moved him to the trailhead.

Brophy did not say what caused Marchant's death, and the sheriff did not immediately respond to a query Monday afternoon.


Appeals court blames founder for Montana club's bankruptcy

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — An appeals court has reversed a lower court's ruling that reduced the damages owed by a former billionaire real estate mogul in the bankruptcy of a Montana resort for the ultrarich.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a previous determination that banking firm Credit Suisse was equally at fault in the 2008 bankruptcy of the Yellowstone Club near Big Sky.

Credit Suisse loaned the ski and golf resort $375 million in 2005, knowing founder Tim Blixseth intended to take most for himself.

Attorneys for the club's creditors said Monday that the ruling puts Blixseth on the hook for $286 million in damages.

Creditors' trustee Brian Glasser says Blixseth is running out of options to delay payment. Blixseth could not be reached immediately for comment.