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Billings man convicted of 10 rape counts
(Information in the following story is from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Billings man has been found guilty of breaking into four women's residences last year and repeatedly raping three of them during hours-long attacks in which they were threatened with weapons and forced to bathe.
Jurors deliberated just over three hours Monday before returning guilty verdicts on all 27 charges filed against 42-year-old Toby Griego.
Prosecutors showed jurors images from Griego's cellphone taken in the women's residences during three of the attacks. Griego took a picture of himself, as well.
Four women testified about being attacked by Griego. He did not testify.
Defense attorney J. Thomas Bartleson said during closing arguments that there was no DNA or trace evidence connecting Griego to two of the 10 rape charges and that the state did not prove the robbery charges.
No criminal charges in fatal Montana avalanche
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A prosecutor in Montana says he won't file charges against four young men who were snowboarding or sledding on Mount Jumbo when an avalanche struck a Missoula neighborhood, killing a woman.
Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg said Monday there is no evidence of criminal intent or negligence in the Feb. 28 slide.
Sixty-eight-year-old Michel Colville died from injuries she suffered in the avalanche. Her husband, 66-year-old Fred Allendorf, and an 8-year-old neighbor, Phoenix Coles-Scoburn, were buried but survived.
Police recommended against charges. Van Valkenburg says Allendorf and Phoenix's mother told him they wouldn't object if no charges were filed.
Van Valkenburg says the young men might have trespassed on an area closed to protect elk, but he says city prosecutors should decide whether to pursue that.
INMATE ESCAPES-ACCOMPLICE CHARGES
5 face charges of helping escaped Bozeman inmate
(Information in the following story is from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com)
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Five people have been charged with allegedly helping a man escape from Bozeman police after he was arrested on suspicion of attempted rape.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports the charges were filed Monday.
The allegations stem from the Feb. 1 escape of 28-year-old Kevin Anthony Briggs. It took nearly three weeks for authorities to recapture him in Portland, Ore.
Prosecutors say Briggs got help cutting off handcuffs and shackles and was given a ride to Missoula. He was also allowed to use cellphones and a computer and given money and clothing.
Cedric Allen Standish-Codding, William Michael Smith, Tristan Kane Anacker, Andrew Charles Kranker and Sherry Michelle Jackson face charged of obstructing justice. Anacker and Kranker also face evidence tampering charges.
They haven't entered pleas.
Briggs pleaded not guilty.
Wolf Point to redraw districts for school board
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Wolf Point school district has agreed to redraw its voting districts for school board elections after an ACLU lawsuit argued the districts favored white voters in a predominantly Native American area.
The ACLU said Monday the settlement approved on April 9 calls for reducing the total number of school board members and redrawing districts so they all include nearly the same number of residents.
The ACLU filed the lawsuit after learning that members of the majority white voting district had been electing one board member for every 143 residents, while those in the Native American district had been electing one board member for every 841 residents.
The Wolf Point school website says 80 percent of its students are Native Americans.
New group forms to plan Knievel Days
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — A new nonprofit corporation has been formed to carry out Evel Knievel Days in Butte after previous organizers backed out during a struggle over control of the festival with Knievel's family.
Attorney Rick Orizotti says Evel Knievel Days Inc., was recently formed to plan, promote and conduct Evel Knievel Days in Butte each year. This year's event is set for July 24-26.
Eleven people have been named to the board of directors including Knievel's former wife, Krystal Knievel. They plan to meet this week.
The dispute over the festival began when Kelly Knievel sought a new licensing agreement with Butte-Silver Bow County for the use of his father's name. Organizers with Evel Knievel Week Inc., backed out last week, in part over threats Kelly Knievel made to its executive director.
John Lewis raises $300K for US House campaign
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Democratic U.S. House candidate John Lewis has raised about $300,000 since the beginning of the year.
The former aide to ex-U.S. Sen Max Baucus is making his first run for political office for the open House seat that Republican Rep. Steve Daines is leaving to campaign for Senate.
Lewis released his fundraising totals Monday for the first three months of 2014. He is the first House candidate to do so.
Lewis says he received contributions from individuals in each of Montana's 56 counties. He also received $116,000 from political-action committees.
He has raised nearly $700,000 since announcing his candidacy last year and spent more than $180,500 over that period.
His campaign has more than $511,000 in the bank.
Lewis faces former state Rep. John Driscoll in the Democratic primary.
Man dies in crash near Hamilton
HAMILTON, Mont. (AP) — A Hamilton man died and his passenger was injured in a weekend rollover crash near Hamilton.
The Montana Highway Patrol says the 42-year-old man was driving his pickup on a rural road northwest of Hamilton when he lost control of the truck at about 6:45 p.m. Saturday.
The pickup rolled down an embankment and came to rest on its top. The driver died at the scene.
A 37-year-old man was taken to the hospital in Hamilton.
Neither man was wearing a seat belt.
The victim's name was being withheld while family members were notified.
INTERSTATE 94 FATAL
Ballantine woman dies in crash east of Billings
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Ballatine woman died in a weekend rollover crash on Interstate 94 east of Billings.
The Montana Highway Patrol says the woman was westbound between Huntley and Billings at about 1:30 p.m. Sunday when she lost control of her sport utility vehicle. The SUV fishtailed, went off the road and rolled.
The 38-year-old woman was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from the SUV. She died at the scene.
Her name wasn't immediately released.
COAL TRAIN PROTESTERS
Missoula coal train protesters cited
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Seven people who protested the movement of a coal train through Missoula were cited for disorderly conduct after sitting near the railroad tracks, forcing the Montana Rail Link train to slow down.
More than 20 people from the Blue Skies Campaign and 350-Missoula held the protest at a city railroad crossing Sunday afternoon.
MRL officials called police, who arrived shortly before the train got to the crossing.
Sergeant J.C. Denton told the protesters that officers supported their right to protest, but said those who were near the tracks were a public safety hazard and would be charged if they didn't move away.
As the train arrived at the crossing, Denton told the seven protesters they were being cited for disorderly conduct and he asked them to follow him away from the tracks.
Zinke raises $460,000 for US House campaign
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Republican U.S. House candidate Ryan Zinke says he has raised $460,000 since the beginning of the year.
The former state senator from Whitefish is seeking the open House seat that Republican Rep. Steve Daines is leaving to campaign for Senate.
Zinke released fundraising totals Monday for the first three months of 2014.
His campaign says he's raised more than $900,000 since announcing his candidacy last year, without any personal loans from the candidate.
He's spent a little more than half of what he's taken in, with about $424,000 in the bank.
The Democratic primary also features Sens. Elsie Arntzen of Billings and Matt Rosendale of Glendive, former state Sen. Corey Stapleton of Billings and real estate investor Drew Turiano of Helena.
Bison meeting cancelled; plan timing uncertain
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The prospects for a state-wide bison conservation plan in Montana are uncertain after wildlife officials cancelled a public forum on the issue.
Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim said Monday that livestock interests and wildlife advocates had complained about the format of the forum scheduled for April 15 and 16 in Lewistown.
Aasheim says the agency decided the meeting would have been counterproductive. He says it's now uncertain if the conservation plan can be completed by the end of 2015 as earlier anticipated.
Wildlife officials have struggled for years to reconcile bison restoration efforts with worries about disease and bison competing with livestock for grazing space.
Bison, or buffalo, once numbered the tens of millions in North America before overhunting drove them almost to extinction in the 1800s.
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