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Local Montana News
Saturday, December 15th 2018
Associated Press Montana News
AP-MT--1st Right Now
Dec 15, 2018 1:20AM (GMT 08:20) - 924 words
MONTANA-BODIES IN BASEMENT

Man pleads guilty to killing 2 people found in acid baths

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana man has pleaded guilty to killing two people whose bodies were dismembered and found in acid-filled tubs in a basement.

Augustus Standingrock pleaded guilty Friday to charges of deliberate homicide and accountability to deliberate homicide in the 2017 stabbing deaths of 15-year-old Marilyn Pickett and 24-year-old Jackson Wiles.

The Missoulian reports the surprise guilty plea allows the 27-year-old Standingrock to avoid the death penalty.

Standingrock's co-defendant, Tiffanie Pierce, still faces charges of deliberate homicide. She has pleaded not guilty.

The bodies were discovered in the basement of Pierce's Missoula home. Prosecutors say Standingrock and Pierce tried to dissolve the bodies in plastic tubs filled with chemicals.

Two days before his plea change, Standingrock had asked for a change of venue for his trial, saying the extensive media coverage likely tainted the potential jury pool.

BLACKFEET RESERVATION-HUMAN REMAINS

Human remains found on Montana's Blackfeet reservation

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Federal agents say human remains have been found on the Blackfeet Indian reservation in northwestern Montana where a woman was reported missing last year.

FBI spokesman Sandra Barker said Friday the remains have not been identified and that it's preliminary to make any connection to the case of Ashley Heavyrunner Loring, who disappeared in June 2017 at age 20.

Barker says an evidence response team is working to recover the remains and process the location where they were found on Thursday.

Barker says agents are working with tribal and Glacier County authorities, and that no additional information is being released at this time.

The discovery Thursday was a day after Loring's sister testified before a U.S. Senate committee that she was frustrated over what she believed to be disinterest by tribal and federal authorities over Ashley's disappearance.

LAND MANAGEMENT-NEVADA

US land management bureau names new Nevada state director

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The agency that manages vast stretches of federal land in the U.S. West has named a new state director in Nevada.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management said Thursday that Jon Raby will take over the new job in January.

Raby has been acting director of the bureau's Montana and Dakotas area.

Bureau Deputy Director Brian Steed cited Raby's more than 25-year career in federal service including 20 years with the BLM.

He previously worked at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Forest services.

In Nevada, he will oversee management of 75,000-square-miles (194,250 square kilometers) of public land and more than 92,000-square-miles (238,280-square-kilometers) of federal mineral resources.

Raby replaces John Ruhs, who left the Nevada position in February to head the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

MONTANA RANCHERS ECONOMY

Montana Stockgrowers Association eyes better market in 2019

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Officials say Montana ranchers are heading into better economic territory in 2019.

The Billings Gazette reports the Montana Stockgrowers Association met Thursday in Billings for its annual convention and trade show, and newly-appointed President Fred Wacker said he expects cattle prices to rebound in the coming year as trade disputes are settled.

Wacker says specifically the dispute with China, where an agreement for $200 million worth of Montana beef was reached in 2017.

The beef deal, which also included a $100 million commitment to build a future Montana packing plant, was paused early this year after President Donald Trump turned to tariffs to settle the United States' lopsided trade relations with China.

Wacker says the trade war that ensued should expire and when it does, there's still demand in China for Montana beef.

HUNTING-DRONES

Drones prohibited from filming Montana hunts

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

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission has approved regulations clarifying the use of drones and motion tracking devices by hunters.

The Independent Record reports with advancements in technology for hunting, wildlife managers have pushed for a number of restrictions in an effort to maintain a "fair chase" standards and ethics.

Phil Kilbreath with FWP's enforcement division told the commission this week that some of Montana's regulations on the use of technologies and vehicles are vague and difficult to enforce.

The commission clarified that drones cannot be used to pursue or drive game animals or to locate animals on the same day as hunting. Drones are also prohibited from being used to film a hunt.

And the commission prohibited the possession of real-time motion detection devices during a hunt.

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MONTANA SCHOOL-SEX ABUSE

Ex-Montana trainer accused of abuse arrested on porn charges

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A former Montana high school athletic trainer accused of sexually abusing students has been arrested and charged with possessing child pornography.

Custer County Attorney Wyatt Glade said Thursday that investigators found 10 digital images of underage boys nude or engaged in sex acts during a search of James Jensen's room in a Miles City retirement home

The 78-year-old Jensen was arrested Thursday and charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse of children for possessing the pornography.

Glade says Jensen won't be charged with abusing the former students because the alleged abuse happened outside of the statute of limitations.

Nineteen former Custer County students say Jensen sexually abused male student-athletes while telling them the abuse would improve their athletic abilities.

It was not immediately clear whether Jensen has an attorney.

He is in jail on $100,000 bond.

Friday, December 14th 2018
Associated Press Montana News
AP-MT--1st Right Now
Dec 14, 2018 3:20AM (GMT 10:20) - 901 words
MONTANA SCHOOL-SEX ABUSE

Ex-Montana trainer accused of abuse arrested on porn charges

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A former Montana high school athletic trainer accused of sexually abusing students has been arrested and charged with possessing child pornography.

Custer County Attorney Wyatt Glade said Thursday that investigators found 10 digital images of underage boys nude or engaged in sex acts during a search of James Jensen's room in a Miles City retirement home

The 78-year-old Jensen was arrested Thursday and charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse of children for possessing the pornography.

Glade says Jensen won't be charged with abusing the former students because the alleged abuse happened outside of the statute of limitations.

Nineteen former Custer County students say Jensen sexually abused male student-athletes while telling them the abuse would improve their athletic abilities.

It was not immediately clear whether Jensen has an attorney.

He is in jail on $100,000 bond.

MONTANA-BODIES IN BASEMENT

Lawyers of man charged in double killing seek venue change

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

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Attorneys for a western Montana man charged with killing and dismembering two people have requested a change of venue for his trial, citing the extensive media coverage of the case.

The Missoulian reports attorneys for 27-year-old Augustus Standingrock in the motion filed Wednesday argue the publicity has precluded their efforts to find an impartial local jury.

His trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 4 in Missoula County.

They say they have worked with a polling expert to gauge residents' thoughts about the case, finding a majority of those surveyed knew somewhat about it.

Deputy county attorney Jennifer Clark says she suspects the polling effort may be a "delay tactic."

Standingrock and 25-year-old Tiffany Pierce are accused of killing 15-year-old Marilyn Pickett and 24-year-old Jackson Wiles in Missoula in August 2017.

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CROW TRIBE-INVESTIGATION

Federal officials find contamination in Crow water system

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Federal investigators say tests results on a public water system serving 1,300 residents on Montana's Crow Indian Reservation have indicated fecal material contamination that exceeds safety standards.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Inspector General said in a memo released Thursday that the contamination was found in tests conducted in April and May on the Crow Agency Water System.

EPA officials also issued notices of violation for reservation water systems in Pryor and Wyola after they did not perform required testing for contamination. The two systems combined serve almost 700 residents, three schools and a health clinic.

The problems come as the tribe has been unable to account for tens of millions of dollars from the U.S. government for water system improvements and transportation projects.

MONTANA SQUATTING

Man illegally lives in deployed service member's home

(Information from: The Montana Standard, http://www.mtstandard.com)

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — A Montana man was sentenced to 15 years in the state prison for squatting in the home of a military service member deployed to Iraq, stealing and selling his belongings, and then going on a crime spree while awaiting trial on the initial charges.

The Montana Standard reports 39-year-old Erik Robert Hunt in court Wednesday said, "I was not out to harm a man that served our country."

Hunt, of Butte, says instead he and his girlfriend were homeless and looking for a place "to get warm."

But Hunt wound up staying in the residence for two or three weeks, during which time he barricaded the front door and sold some of the man's belongings, including televisions and tools.

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WOLF HUNT

Yellowstone wolf's killing in Montana raises concern

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The recent killing of a Yellowstone National Park wolf outside the park has generated hundreds of emails and phone calls to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials suggesting that the hunt wasn't lawful.

But FWP officials have determined that the wolf was legally hunted on Nov. 24 near the small community of Silver Gate, outside Yellowstone's Northeast Entrance.

The Billings Gazette reports that Montana allows limited wolf hunting outside Yellowstone where wolves often wander in and out of the park in search of prey, to establish new territories or to avoid other wolf packs.

Wildlife advocates have started an online petition calling for a no-shooting zone on state lands surrounding Yellowstone.

Last year, another well-known wolf died shot inside Yellowstone near Gardiner. No one has been charged in that incident.

___

BLM LEASE SALE

BLM oil and gas lease sale lands over $538,800 in bids

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — An online auction of oil and gas leases by the Bureau of Land Management has landed more than $538,800 in bids this week.

The auction held Tuesday offered 23 parcels covering some 12,500 acres (5,058 hectares) in Montana for oil and gas leasing through the competitive online auction.

The BLM says it received bids on 21 of the parcels.

Petro-Hunt LLC of Dallas was the highest bidder, with a total bonus bid of $151,848 for a nearly 1,400-acre (566-hectare) parcel in Dawson County.

The revenue from the sale of federal leases, as well as the 12.5 percent royalties collected from the production of those leases, is shared between the federal government and the state.

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