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Associated Press Montana News Summary
Friday, October 9th 2015 
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment

Barry Beach files new clemency request after changes in law

HELENA, Mont. (AP) A man convicted of killing a high-school classmate in 1979 has filed a new clemency request now that the law has been changed to give the final decision to the governor instead of the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole.

The board denied Barry Beach's last request his fourth last year even though Gov. Steve Bullock said he wanted to consider the application.

Beach was sentenced to 100 years in prison after being convicted of deliberate homicide in the beating death of 17-year-old Kim Nees in Poplar. He has steadfastly denied killing Nees, and his cause has been taken up by several current and former Montana politicians.

The law that went into effect Oct. 1 requires the board to forward the application to the governor within 10 days of completing an assessment.


Not guilty plea entered in Billings homicide

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) A not guilty plea has been entered on behalf of a woman who reportedly told police she strangled her boyfriend because he told her he wanted to die.

The Billings Gazette reports the plea was entered Thursday on behalf of 32-year-old Lindsay April Haugen, who is charged with deliberate homicide in the Sept. 15 death of 25-year-old Robert Glenn Mast. Haugen's bail remains at $400,000.

Charging documents say Haugen told police that Mast said he wanted to die and she strangled him because she had wanted to try killing someone with her bare hands. Officials have not released Mast's cause of death.

Haugen told officers that she and Mast had been dating since August. She said they stopped in Billings while traveling from Olympia, Washington, to North Dakota.


Mistrial for miner charged with breaking clean water law

HELENA, Mont. (AP) A judge has declared a mistrial for a miner whom prosecutors charged with polluting wetlands and a waterway in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy ordered the mistrial Thursday after the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. Jurors began deliberating the case against Joseph Roberston Wednesday morning.

Robertson was charged with violating the Clean Water Act, with penalties of up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine upon conviction.

Prosecutors say he dug ponds that discharged dredged and fill materials into a tributary of Cataract Creek and into nearby wetlands, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damages.

Robertson says a state official gave him permission to dig the ponds to protect his property from fire, and he argued the waterway doesn't fall under the federal law's jurisdiction.


Montana Republican Party executive director resigns

HELENA, Mont. (AP) The executive director of the Montana Republican Party has resigned after less than a year in the position.

Chris Shipp said Thursday his last day with the party was Sept. 30.

Shipp says he previously decided to leave before the 2016 election season, but he stayed until now to help new party Chairman Jeff Essmann create a transition plan.

Shipp became GOP executive director in December. He was the party's communications director in the 2012 and 2014 elections, and he says he didn't want to go through a third cycle.

Party spokesman Shane Scanlon declined to answer questions Thursday about Shipp's resignation.

Instead, Scanlon forwarded a statement from party Chairman Jeff Essmann saying he is grateful for Shipp's service and the resignation opens an opportunity for another "bright and energetic Republican."


Gov. Bullock hires new communications director

HELENA, Mont. (AP) Gov. Steve Bullock has hired a new communications director.

Spokesman Mike Wessler says Tim Crowe will begin on Tuesday. Crowe was the longtime spokesman for the state Department of Military Affairs until earlier this year.

Former Bullock communications director Dave Parker has been reassigned to work on the governor's Main Street Montana initiative.

Wessler says he also will be resigning from the governor's office in the coming months to move back East. He says the governor's office will hire a new deputy communications director.


Hunters kill half of bighorn sheep herd in Tendoy Mountains

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

HELENA, Mont. (AP) Hunters in Montana have harvested about half of a bighorn sheep herd in the Tendoy Mountains that has been chronically ill.

The wild sheep in the Tendoys southeast of Dillon have experienced major die-offs due to pneumonia twice in the last 25 years.

Attempts to augment the population by bringing in healthy sheep have been unsuccessful.

The Independent Record reports that Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has approved a plan calling for total elimination of the herd to end the illnesses. So far hunters have harvested 18 bighorn sheep since hunting began Sept. 5 for bow hunters and Sept. 15 for the general season.

There are between 30 and 40 animals in the herd.

Once the population is removed, officials plan to restock the area with about 50 healthy animals.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Associated Press Montana News Summary
Thursday, October 8th 2015 
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment

Short supply of drugs allowed for use in Montana executions

HELENA, Mont. (AP) A judge's ruling limits Montana to using one of three drugs in its lethal injections, but none of three is readily available for purchase.

That means the state may be unable to execute either of its two death-row inmates unless the Legislature changes the law or the Montana Supreme Court overturns District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock's decision.

State law requires lethal injections to be administered by an "ultra-fast acting barbiturate" and a chemical paralytic agent. Sherlock determined Tuesday only three barbiturates are ultra-fast acting.

One is thiopental (thi-oh-PENT'-ahl), which is no longer manufactured in the U.S. European manufacturers are banned from exporting the drug for executions.

The second is thiamylal (thy-AM'-il-ahl), which is no longer made in the U.S.

The third is methohexital (meth-oh-HEX'-it-al). The drug's U.S. manufacturer refuses to sell it to state corrections officials.


Great Falls man found guilty in deputy's death

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) A Yellowstone County jury found a Great Falls man guilty of killing a Cascade County sheriff's deputy by hitting him with a car during a high-speed pursuit near Belt.

Jurors deliberated for about four hours Wednesday before finding Adam Sanchez Jr. guilty of deliberate homicide in the August 2014 death of Deputy Joe Dunn as he put down stop sticks. Jurors also found Sanchez guilty of assault with a weapon, two counts of criminal endangerment and assaulting a police officer.

Defense attorney Tom Bartleson had argued there was no evidence that his client hit Dunn for any reason other than to maneuver around vehicles.

Sanchez is already serving a 20-year prison sentence for criminal endangerment for an earlier chase. Prosecutors plan to seek a life sentence for Dunn's death.


Attorney pleads guilty to wire fraud, identity theft

(Information in the following story is from: The Montana Standard, http://www.mtstandard.com)

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) A former Anaconda attorney accused of embezzling more than $500,000 from clients and a state chapter of a national association has pleaded guilty.

The Montana Standard reports that David Michael McLean pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in a plea deal on Aug. 17.

On Sept. 25, a Chief District judge decided to defer acceptance of the plea agreement until sentencing on Dec. 3.

As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to dismiss three counts of wire fraud and four counts of aggravated identity theft.

McLean's fraud was discovered in July 2014. He and his son Michael McLean reported the misappropriation of funds to the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel. David McLean was subsequently disbarred by the Montana Supreme Court.


Medical board plans to revoke license of addiction doctor

(Information in the following story is from: The Montana Standard, http://www.mtstandard.com)

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) The medical director of the state's chemical dependency treatment center is on paid administrative leave and faces indefinite suspension of his medical license over concerns that he may have been using some type of intoxicant.

Dr. Mark Catalanello was being monitored by the Montana Professional Assistance Program and his medical license was suspended in April 2004 for using alcohol. The state Board of Medical Examiners reinstated his license in 2007, the same year he began working at the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs. His part-time duties at the Montana Chemical Dependency Center in Butte began in December 2012.

The Montana Standard reports MPAP started receiving reports in August from people concerned that Catalanello may have relapsed. He refused to undergo toxicology screening, violating his agreement with MPAP. His license was suspended on Friday.


Former teacher gets 10 years in prison in porn case

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) A former Livingston and Billings West teacher and coach has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for using aliases on social networking sites to get underage girls to send sexually explicit pictures of themselves to his cellphone.

The Billings Gazette reports U.S. District Judge Susan Watters agreed Wednesday with a defense recommendation that Scott James Nichols be sentenced to 10 years in prison, about half the low end of the federal sentencing guidelines. Nichols pleaded guilty to two counts of coercion and enticement, two counts of attempted coercion and one count of child pornography distribution.

Watters also ordered 15 years of supervised release and required Nichols to register as a sex offender.

Investigators say they found hundreds of videos and images of child pornography on computers in Nichols' office at West High.


Missing Missoula woman found safe

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) A 64-year-old Missoula woman who was the subject of a state missing and endangered person alert has been found safe.

Susan Innala Stevens, who has dementia, was last seen on Tuesday afternoon. Police say she was found walking around Missoula on Wednesday morning.

Police spokesman Travis Welsh says someone was looking out the window and spotted her. He says she appeared OK, but was going to get a medical checkup to make sure.


Woman arrested in Montana while wanted in Oklahoma

(Information in the following story is from: Ravalli Republic, http://www.ravallirepublic.com)

HAMILTON, Mont. (AP) A woman has been arrested for embezzlement in Montana while living under an alias to escape a fugitive warrant from Oklahoma.

The Ravalli Republic reports that 45-year-old Terri Renee Gordineer lived and worked in Montana's Ravalli County under the assumed name Lisa Denise Tracy for three years.

She was recently charged with embezzling nearly $20,000 from her employer, Barnings Chiropractic, during that time. Ravalli County has also charged her with two counts of felony drug possession.

In the separate Oklahoma case, Gordineer faces felony charges including grand larceny and methamphetamine possession.

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