Written by Al Stover
Justin Michael Perkins appeared in the Montana 15th Judicial Court for his arraignment, Aug. 14.
Perkins pleaded not guilty to the felony charges of theft and criminal possession of drugs and to the misdemeanor charges of possession of dangerous drugs and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
According to charging documents, the Roosevelt County/Fort Peck Tribes 911 dispatch center received a 911 call from a woman who reported that her vehicle had been stolen as she was making a purchase at the Val-Am in Culbertson.
The woman provided the license plate number and description of her vehicle. She also mentioned that she had seen a male around her vehicle at the time.
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Sergeant Tim Lingle responded and arrived in Culbertson. He interviewed the woman who made the 911 call. Later that morning, footage from a security camera showed a suspect with a dark-colored goatee and wearing a light blue Affliction T-shirt, dark pants and a light colored ball cap with the letter “T” on it. The suspect purchased some items and removed his ball-cap, revealing his shaved head, giving a clear photograph of his description. The suspect exited the store after making the purchases. He was later identified as Perkins.
The footage showed Perkins walking up to the vehicle and looking into it. He climbed into the driver’s seat and drove west onto U.S. Highway 2.
At approximately 11:15 a.m., Lingle was contacted via radio by dispatch and informed that there was another possible stolen vehicle. Court documents stated that Richland County was also informed of a stolen vehicle.
Around 30 minutes later, Lingle was informed by dispatch that a stolen pickup had been reported in Richland County and that Fort Peck Tribal Police Lt. Frank Martell had previously conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle and released the vehicle in Poplar prior to the pickup being reported stolen. Dispatch also advised Lingle that officers in Poplar, and Wolf Point were looking for the vehicle and that the driver was identified as Perkins and there was another male, Rick Morales, also in the vehicle. They also told him the vehicle was a red 2004 GMC pickup.
At 1:14 p.m, Lingle was traveling west by County Road 1028, he noticed a red GMC truck, with an extended cab, and no front license plate, traveling east.
He recognized the driver as the person who fit the description on the security camera.
Upon receiving a description of the stolen vehicle, he activated his emergency lights and pulled over the pickup at County Road 1028.
Lingle alerted dispatch at 1:15 p.m. that he was out with the vehicle and had Perkins on the ground. Two more males exited the vehicle. One man was identified as Morales while the other was identified as Terrance Dupree.
Perkins asked the sergeant what was going on and Lingle told him he was being arrested for having stolen a vehicle from Richland County and for stealing the car at the Val-Am. Perkins stated, “Oh, yeah.”
After he placed Perkins in the patrol unit, Lingle noticed a rifle with a scope, with the barrel pointing toward the floorboard and butt on the front seat.
He removed the rifle for his own safety and found that it was loaded.
Once the officer had secured the rifle in his patrol unit, Perkins said there was another rifle under the back seat. Lingle went back to the back of the cab of truck and found a .22 caliber rifle where Perkins said it was and secured it.
Perkins also told the officer that he had a pipe in the glove box of the vehicle. Lingle asked if it was for a marijuana pipe. Perkins said no and that he had been selling drugs after he had lost his job.
Deputies Jason Baker and Joseph Moore of the Roose-velt County Sheriff’s Office and Montana Highway Patrol Sergeant Jeff Kent and Trooper Woody Bateman arrived to assist Lingle.
Perkins was transferred to Baker’s patrol unit. Bateman stayed on the scene with the stolen vehicle while Lingle transported Morales to Poplar.
When he was on his way back to the scene, Moore said he contacted the registered owner who gave permission to search the vehicle. The owner also wanted to be present to verify if any property was missing from the vehicle.
The owner arrived and gave Richland County Undersheriff Denny Palmer and Lingle permission to search the vehicle.
They found a flowered colored case behind the passenger seat that contained a razor blade, straw and fuse holder. A pink or purple colored bag was also found between the front seats that contained a glass meth pipe with suspected methamphetamine residue.
After the search, the owner found a ledger with drug information. The ledger, a silver watch and a set of keys were taken into evidence. Palmer took custody of the two rifles and provided Lingle with a property receipt. After cleaning the scene, the remainder of the evidence was taken to Wolf Point. The truck was returned to the owner.
Attorney Terrance Toavs requested Perkins have his bond reduced to $25,000 on the conditions that he reside with his mother, and sign a waiver of extradition to travel to Pennsylvania and return for the proceedings. Ralph Patch approved the bond reduction.
Perkins is scheduled to have his omnibus hearing on Aug. 28 and his trial is set for Oct. 17.