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Associated Press Montana News Summary
Thursday, April 17th 2014 
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment
SUSPECT ESCAPES-ACCOMPLICE

Man charged with aiding escape arrested

(Information in the following story is from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com)

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) A Montana man charged with driving the suspect in an assault and attempted rape to Missoula after he escaped police custody in Bozeman has been arrested.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports 29-year-old William Michael Smith of Bozeman was arrested Tuesday by police in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. He remained jailed there on Wednesday.

Smith was one of five people charged Monday with obstruction of justice for aiding Kevin Briggs after his Feb. 1 escape. Briggs was arrested Feb. 21 in Portland, Ore.

Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert said Smith was in custody in Bozeman from Feb. 6 to March 20, when he was returned to Shoshone County in Idaho on a warrant alleging he violated his probation in a drug case. He was released from jail in Wallace on April 8. A $100,000 warrant was issued for Smith's arrest.

SCHOOL CLASSIFICATION CHANGES

Enrollment drops mean new classifications for 3

HELENA, Mont. (AP) The Montana High School Association's executive board has approved the reclassification of sports teams at three schools due to decreasing enrollment.

The board moved both Anaconda and Libby from Class A to Class B and moved Plentywood from Class B to Class C. The new classifications take effect with the start of the 2015-16 school year.

Eight other schools were identified for reclassification based on enrollment, but all petitioned and were approved to remain in their current classifications.

Generally, high schools with 826 or more students are Class AA, while Class A schools have between 340-825 students. Class B is for schools with 120-339 students and schools with 119 or fewer students are Class C.

BULLOCK-OIL BOOM AID

Bullock expected to offer oil boom aid

(Information in the following story is from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is expected to announce $45 million in grants and low-interest loans for eastern Montana communities affected by the oil boom.

The Billings Gazette reports Bullock's office outlined the program in an advisory Wednesday. It includes reduced interest rates on infrastructure loans from the State Revolving Fund.

Bullock is expected to formally disclose the plans Thursday during a four-city tour.

Bullock, a Democrat, vetoed a bill last year that would have provided $35 million in state money for road, water and sewer projects. Bullock said the state couldn't afford it.

Republican state Rep. Austin Knudsen of Culbertson questioned how Bullock would allocate $45 million without the Legislature's approval.

The newspaper says Bullock spokesman Dave Parker declined to elaborate on funding for the package.

JAILER-SEX CHARGE

Jefferson jailer faces charges of sex with inmate

BOULDER, Mont. (AP) A part-time Jefferson County jailer has been arrested on charges of having sex with an inmate and taking contraband into the jail.

Sheriff Craig Doolittle said Wednesday that Rodney Mortimore of Boulder was arrested after an inmate complained on April 12 about alleged sexual relations with Mortimore in early December.

No phone number could be found for Mortimore and it wasn't known if he had an attorney.

Mortimore faces four counts of sexual intercourse without consent and six counts of transferring illegal articles to an incarcerated person. Authorities haven't said what the articles were.

Mortimore appeared in court Monday and has been released on $50,000 bail. His next court appearance is April 23.

Doolittle says jailers are told during training that sex with inmates is illegal.

FATAL CRASH-BOZEMAN

1 killed in Bozeman traffic accident

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) Authorities say one person has died and another has been taken to a hospital after a two-vehicle collision in Bozeman.

The Gallatin County coroner said 30-year-old Kari Friedman of Bozeman died at the scene of the collision Wednesday. The driver of the other vehicle was taken to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital, but that person's name and condition weren't immediately released.

The coroner's office says Friedman was the only person in her vehicle.

The Montana Highway Patrol is investigating.

SHOOTING INQUEST

Jury: Officer justified in shooting fugitive

(Information in the following story is from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) A coroner's jury has ruled a Yellowstone County Sheriff's lieutenant was justified in the fatal shooting of an armed fugitive.

The Billings Gazette reports the seven-person jury took five minutes to reach Wednesday's verdict in an inquest at the county's detention facility.

Lt. Shane Skillen shot 42-year-old Dean Randolph Jess July 5 during a standoff outside a Billings shopping center.

The inquest was held to determine if Skillen acted appropriately.

Jess was in a stolen vehicle after escaping from Montana State Prison. Authorities say Skillen shot him after Jess made a move for a gun.

Law-enforcement officers have shot and killed five people in Billings in two years. Four of the shootings have been ruled as justified.

An unarmed robbery suspect was shot by a Billings police officer Monday.

HARLEM FATAL

Harlem man killed, 2 injured in crash near Harlem

HELENA, Mont. (AP) A 29-year-old Harlem man died and two people were injured in a rollover crash just north of Harlem.

The Montana Highway Patrol says the victim was driving a car southbound on Secondary Highway 241 at about 8:35 p.m. Tuesday when the car went off the road at a left-hand curve. The car went through the ditch, hit an approach and became airborne. The car landed and rolled onto its roof. None of the occupants were wearing seat belts.

On Wednesday, Blaine County Undersheriff Frank Billmayer identified the victim as Thomas Murphy Walker Jr.

The crash injured a 35-year-old man from Havre and a 36-year-old woman from Harlem. They were listed in stable condition at Northern Montana Hospital in Havre.

LOLO MOTORCYCLE FATAL-ID

Officials identify victim of Lolo motorcycle crash

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) Missoula County officials have released the name of a Missoula man who died in a motorcycle crash on U.S. Highway 93 near Lolo.

The sheriff's department said Wednesday that 22-year-old Samuel Forrest Fitch died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck suffered in the crash Monday night.

The Montana Highway Patrol says Fitch was speeding northbound when he entered a right-hand curve. His motorcycle crossed the yellow line, went into the median and struck a concrete barrier and a steel sign support on top of the barrier. The force of the impact broke the support. Fitch came to rest on top of the barrier.

MONTANA FORESTS

Groups criticize governor over forest priorities

(Information in the following story is from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) Some conservationists are miffed they weren't consulted before Gov. Steve Bullock identified 5.1 million acres of national forest land as top restoration priorities.

Bullock announced the nominations this month for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to consider increasing the pace and scale of restoration efforts.

The Great Falls Tribune reports some groups criticized the governor for a lack of public participation in the process.

Matthew Koehler of Wildwest Institute says the decisions were based on the recommendations of a group hand-selected by the governor's office and Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

The group met five times with no public notice or meeting records.

Bullock spokesman Dave Parker says the deadline to make the nominations was short and there will be future opportunities for the public to weigh in.

FATAL CRASH-BARTENDER TRIAL

Hung jury, bartender charged with over-serving

(Information in the following story is from: Independent Record, http://www.helenair.com)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) A Helena jury was unable to reach a verdict in the case of a bartender charged with serving alcohol to an intoxicated woman who later killed two people in a drunken driving crash.

The Independent Record reports jurors did find 57-year-old William Gleed guilty of obstructing a peace officer. A Montana Highway Patrol trooper testified that Gleed told officers to check two other bars for information on the driver.

Gleed was charged under a state law that says it is illegal for anyone to sell or give alcohol to someone who is "actually, apparently, or obviously intoxicated."

Prosecutors alleged Gleed over-served 22-year-old Arielle Schescke and a man in the hours before a crash near East Helena last April that killed 51-year-old Mildred Richard and her 16-year-old granddaughter, Justine Smith.

OFFICER-INVOLVED SHOOTING

Chief: Hand movements justified fatal shooting

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) A Montana police chief says an unarmed robbery suspect moved his hands six times in defiance of an officer's orders before the officer fatally shot him during a traffic stop.

Billings Police Chief Rich St. John said Wednesday the officer's decision to shoot 38-year-old Richard Ramirez three times was justified.

St. John says a search of the car in which Ramirez was a passenger found drug paraphernalia but no weapons.

Authorities have not yet released the name of the officer involved in Monday's shooting because of general threats against law enforcement posted on social media.

Adding to the concern, St. John says two of the deceased's brothers are wanted on felony charges.

Ramirez is the fifth person shot and killed by law enforcement in Billings in two years.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Associated Press Montana News Summary
Wednesday, April 16th 2014 
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment
TRIBAL THEFT

May 1 trial set in Rocky Boy embezzlement case

(Information in the following story is from: Havre Daily News, http://www.havredailynews.com)

HAVRE, Mont. (AP) A federal judge has set a May 1 trial date in the embezzlement case against former Rocky Boy Indian Reservation health clinic director Fawn Tadios.

The Havre Daily News reports the judge set the date during a hearing on Monday.

Tadios faces two counts of theft. Prosecutors allege she embezzled more than $50,000 from the clinic to visit her husband in an out-of-state prison.

The judge heard arguments Monday on Tadios' motion asking for details of the charges and questioning the federal court's jurisdiction. Tadios said she is a citizen of the Chippewa Cree tribe, not the United States.

She also complained she is being forced to represent herself against her will.

Last month, the judge ruled Tadios would represent herself after she rejected four public defenders.

MONTANA FIRE DEATHS-PLEA

Billings man pleads guilty in trailer fire deaths

(Information in the following story is from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) The second of two men charged after four people died in a mobile home fire last April has acknowledged his role in their deaths.

The Billings Gazette reports Robert Eric Bottenhagen pleaded guilty Tuesday to four counts of negligent homicide during a hearing before District Judge Gregory Todd. The state will recommend a 60-year prison sentence.

Bottenhagen's co-defendant, 22-year-old Zaccary John Kern, pleaded guilty in February to accountability to the crimes.

Prosecutors said Bottenhagen and Kern set fires to towels and an apron in the kitchen of a Lockwood trailer and left after being unable to put out the fired. They did not try to awaken the four victims or call the fire department.

The fire resulted in the deaths of 33-year-old Amber-Marie Byers, 25-year-old Donovan Fogle, 25-year-old Brandi Hansen Moats and 28-year-old Troy Saylor.

ATTEMPTED KIDNAPPING

Man charged with assault, attempted kidnapping

(Information in the following story is from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) The son of a man who drowned while ice fishing on Fort Peck Lake in January is charged with confronting his father's fishing buddy and threatening to kill him.

The Billings Gazette reports 25-year-old Tyler Daniel Gilstrap made an initial appearance in Justice Court Tuesday on charges of assault with a weapon and attempted kidnapping. Bail was set at $25,000.

Charging documents say the victim reported Gilstrap showed up at his home on April 11 and asked him about how his father died. The man said he was telling Gilstrap the story when Gilstrap called him a liar and pointed the gun at his head.

The man told investigators Gilstrap forced him outside and told him to get in the back of his pickup truck, saying "this is where you're gonna die."

OFFICER-INVOLVED SHOOTING

Unarmed robbery suspect shot and killed by officer

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) A suspect in an armed robbery was shot and killed by a Billings police officer after authorities say he made a sudden movement during a traffic stop.

Police Chief Rich St. John identified the deceased Tuesday as 38-year-old Richard Ramirez. No weapon was found on Ramirez, who was shot three times.

St. John says the officer was placed on administrative leave. His name will be released later because law enforcement received threats after the shooting.

Authorities say the officer was looking for Ramirez as a suspect in a robbery in which a man was shot in the arm Sunday. The officer spotted a car with Ramirez in the back seat and pulled it over in an alley. After Ramirez made a threatening movement, St. John said the officer drew his weapon and fired.

BALLOT INITIATIVE

Fiscal impact of ballot initiative questioned

HELENA, Mont. (AP) Attorney General Tim Fox is asking the state Supreme Court to order a new fiscal note for a ballot initiative that seeks to expand the Medicaid program in Montana.

Fox says he agrees with opponents that the fiscal note prepared by the state budget director wrongly includes $100 million in federal revenue unrelated to the implementation of Initiative 170.

Gov. Steve Bullock says the purpose of the Healthy Montana Initiative is to "fully utilize available federal funds to provide health coverage for uninsured Montanans." He said because the initiative calls for the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid, the fiscal note must include all the federal funding for medical care.

The Secretary of State approved the ballot initiative last month and supporters have been gathering signatures.

MOTORCYCLE FATAL

Man dies in motorcycle crash near Lolo

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) A 22-year-old Missoula man has died after a motorcycle crash near Lolo.

The Montana Highway Patrol says the man was speeding northbound when he entered a right-hand curve on U.S. Highway 93 shortly after 11 p.m. Monday. The motorcycle crossed the yellow line, went into the median and struck a concrete barrier and a steel sign support on top of the barrier. The force of the impact broke the support and the driver came to rest on top of the barrier.

The patrol says he died at the scene of blunt force trauma. He was wearing a helmet.

The victim's name was withheld until family members could be notified.

HAMILTON FATAL-ID

Name of Hamilton man killed in crash released

HAMILTON, Mont. (AP) Ravalli County officials have released the name of a 42-year-old man who died in a weekend pickup rollover west of Hamilton.

Sheriff Chris Hoffman says Joseph Daniel Ward of Hamilton died and a 37-year-old Corvallis man was injured in the crash, which was reported at about 6:45 p.m. Saturday.

Hoffman said he had no information about the condition of the injured man, who had to be extricated from the pickup.

The Montana Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.

INTERSTATE 94 FATAL-ID

Officials ID Ballantine woman killed in crash

(Information in the following story is from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) Officials in Yellowstone County have released the name of a 38-year-old woman who died in a one-vehicle rollover on Interstate 94 east of Billings.

Coroner Lt. Bill Jones tells The Billings Gazette that Marisa Nielsen of Ballantine died of blunt force trauma to her torso. She was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from her sport utility vehicle during the crash Sunday afternoon.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

MISSOULA HOSPITALS

Missoula hospital adding OB, newborn services

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula says it plans to add obstetrics, newborn and pediatric services as early as next year.

The decision puts Providence St. Patrick Hospital in direct competition with Community Medical Center, which is currently the only provider of birth and newborn care in Missoula.

Monday's announcement comes just weeks after Community Medical Center announced it was being bought out by Billings Clinic and a Tennessee-based hospital group and planned to switch to for-profit status.

St. Patrick also plans to add a level 2 neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU.

Community Medical Center officials said they were saddened by St. Patrick's decision, noting that in 1974 the hospitals decided one NICU was best for the community.

Providence Western Montana chief executive Jeff Fee says changes in health care require organizations like St. Patrick to provide comprehensive services.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Associated Press Montana News Summary
Tuesday, April 15th 2014 
Criminal charge filed in saltwater dumping case
Associated Press


WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem (STEHN'-juhm) says criminal charges have been filed against a truck driver accused of illegally dumping oil drilling waste in Williams County.

Stenehjem alleges that an inspector with the Department of Mineral Resources observed Black Hills Trucking Inc. employee Leo Slemin illegally dumping saltwater from the truck he was driving on February 14.

Slemin is due in court April 21. He could face five years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted. Court documents don't list an attorney for him.

The Mineral Resources Department's Oil and Gas Division also is pursuing civil penalties for this and two other alleged incidents in which Black Hills' trucks were observed illegally dumping waste on the same road.

The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Name of Hamilton man killed in crash released
HAMILTON, Mont. (AP) Ravalli County officials have released the name of a 42-year-old man who died in a weekend pickup rollover west of Hamilton.

Sheriff Chris Hoffman says Joseph Daniel Ward of Hamilton died and a 37-year-old Corvallis man was injured in the crash, which was reported at about 6:45 p.m. Saturday.

Hoffman said he had no information about the condition of the injured man, who had to be extricated from the pickup.

The Montana Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Officials ID Ballantine woman killed in crash
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) Officials in Yellowstone County have released the name of a 38-year-old woman who died in a one-vehicle rollover on Interstate 94 east of Billings.

Coroner Lt. Bill Jones tells The Billings Gazette (http://bit.ly/1ktT1Ka ) that Marisa Nielsen of Ballantine died of blunt force trauma to her torso. She was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from her sport utility vehicle during the crash Sunday afternoon.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

___

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


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Associated Press Montana News Summary
Tuesday, April 15th 2014 
Here is the latest Montana news from The Associated Press
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) A Billings police officer shot and killed an armed robbery suspect during a traffic stop. Police Chief Rich St. John says the officer fired several shots when the man made threatening movements after he was found in the back seat of a car last night. The names of the suspect and the officer have not been released.

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) Prosecutors are charging five people with helping an attempted rape suspect escape from Bozeman police. Police say the people hid 28-year-old Kevin Briggs, helped him remove his restraints and drove him out of town. Briggs was arrested in Portland, Ore., after a three-week regional manhunt.

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) A new nonprofit corporation has been formed to run the Evel Knievel Days festivities in Butte. The previous organizers backed out during a struggle over control of the festival with Knievel's family. Eleven people have been named to the board of directors including Knievel's former wife, Krystal Knievel. This year's event is set for July 24-26.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) A federal jury has convicted four officials with a failed southwest Idaho property management company of fraud after they misled investors. The Idaho Statesman reports the jury deliberated three days before returning the guilty verdicts yesterday in the trial involving failed real estate company DBSI of Meridian.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Associated Press Montana News Summary
Tuesday, April 15th 2014 
Here is the latest Montana news from The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) A Tyrannosaurus rex is joining the dinosaur fossil collection on the National Mall after a 2,000-mile journey from Montana. For the first time, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History will have a nearly complete T. rex skeleton. FedEx is delivering the dinosaur bones today in 16 crates.

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) A prosecutor 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 says there is no evidence of criminal intent or negligence in the Feb. 28 slide.

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) Wildlife officials say they are unable to complete the annual count of a major elk herd that migrates between Yellowstone National Park and Montana this year. Officials say that weather problems prevented completion of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd survey when it was attempted in February.

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) One of the largest steam locomotives ever built is coming back to life. The Union Pacific Railroad plans to restore an engine known as a Big Boy. It was a 6,300-horsepower monster designed to drag heavy freight trains over the Wyoming and Utah mountains. It will be towed this month to Cheyenne, where the work will be done at Union Pacific's steam shop.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Associated Press Montana News Summary
Tuesday, April 15th 2014 
Here is the latest Montana news from The Associated Press
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 before returning guilty verdicts on all 27 charges filed against 42-year-old Toby Griego.

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 allegations stem from the Feb. 1 escape of 28-year-old Kevin Briggs. It took nearly three weeks for authorities to recapture him in Portland, Ore.

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. A Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks spokesman says that livestock interests and wildlife advocates had complained about the format of the forum scheduled for April 15 and 16 in Lewistown. Wildlife officials have struggled for years to reconcile bison restoration efforts with worries about disease and bison competing with livestock for grazing space.

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.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Associated Press Montana News Summary
Tuesday, April 15th 2014 
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment
BILLINGS RAPES-TRIAL

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.

MONTANA AVALANCHE-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.

INDIANS-VOTING DISTRICTS

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.

KNIEVEL DAYS

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.

HOUSE RACE-FUNDRAISING

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.

HAMILTON FATAL

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.

HOUSE FUNDRAISING-ZINKE

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 CONSERVATION

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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