Written by Herald-News
District Judge David Cybulski heard several cases during Law and Motion proceeding in 15th District Court Wednesday, Feb. 11.
Joel Campos, 37, of Las Cruces, N.M., withdrew a previously entered not guilty pleas and pleaded guilty to felony possession of dangerous drugs.
Campos admitted to felony possession of dangerous drugs in Roosevelt County on Dec. 27, 2013.
Cybulski found him guilty and denied a request by Campos to waive a pre-sentencing investigation and report and be sentenced immediately. Campos said he wanted to go to treatment for substance abuse.
Cybulski said he could not waive the PSI because the plea agreement calls for a five-year sentence to the custody of the Montana Department of Corrections with two years suspended.
Scott Crain, 27, of Froid was released from the Roosevelt County Jail on his own recognizance after he withdrew previously entered not guilty pleas and pleaded guilty to criminal possession of dangerous drugs.
He had pleaded not guilty Sept. 24 to criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
Crain admitted in court that he possessed methamphetamine in Froid Aug. 27.
Bruce Johnson, 57, of Poplar was sentenced to a commitment to the Montana Department of Corrections for 653 days and taken into custody immediately.
Johnson had appeared for an disposition hearing for alleged probation and parole violations during late January. At that time Cybulski found him in violation and continued the hearing to allow Johnson to get his affairs in order.
Johnson was originally sentenced in 2008 and had numerous violations during 2014 that included the Montana Highway Patrol charging him with driving under the influence and other incidents where he was caught with marijuana, methamphetamine and other drugs, and driving on a suspended license.
Kandace Poole, 26, of Williston, N.D., withdrew previously entered not guilty pleas and pleaded guilty criminal possession of dangerous drugs and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
She admitted in court that she was in possession of methamphetamine and a glass pipe in Roosevelt County on Dec. 27, 2013.
She had entered her not guilty pleas in May 2014.
Cybulski found her guilty.
He ordered that she be released on her own recognizance following a defense motion for release.
Cybulski had denied a defense request for a reduction in bail nine months ago, that had been set at $50,000.
At that time, Assistant County Attorney Jordan Knudsen cited a previous drug offense in North Dakota as a reason the request should be denied.
Carroll Wells, 35, of Fairview appeared for an arraignment on felony charges of burglary and theft. He said he had not spoken to his defense attorney. He will enter pleas Wednesday, Feb. 25.
Wells had been wanted in Roosevelt County on a warrant and was transferred last week from the jail in Dickinson, N.D., where he had been held for about a year for a North Dakota case.
Written by Herald-News
Three people from Poplar and one from Nashua were arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge John T. Johnston in Great Falls following the unsealing of federal indictments Tuesday, Feb. 10.
James Campbell, 37, of Poplar pleaded not guilty to a charge of strangulation.
He faces a potential maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, $250,000 in fines and three years supervised release.
The alleged non-fatal incident occurred July 16, 2013, near Poplar, and involved an assault of what court documents call “ an intimate and dating partner of the defendant.”
Campbell was arrested Feb. 12.
The Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice investigated the case.
Sara Darnell, 42, of Poplar pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and distribution of methamphetamine.
She faces a potential maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, $5 million in fines and four years supervised release.
The Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice and the Bureau of Indian Affairs investigated the case.
Gary Drum, 27, of Poplar pleaded not guilty to burglary.
He faces a potential maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, $50,000 in fines and three years supervised release.
The Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice investigated the case.
Jeffrey Helm, 60, of Nashua pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute oxycodone and morphine, possession with intent to distribute oxycodone and morphine, and distribution of oxycodone and morphine.
He faces a potential maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, $1 million in fines and three years supervised release.
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration investigated the case.
Written by Herald-News
(Editor’s Note: The Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office distributes an inmate roster each week with charges and communities of residence.)
As of Tuesday, Feb. 17, 17 inmates were housed in the Roosevelt County Jail. Fort Benton Detention Center was holding one male to alleviate overcrowding.
The RCSO reported that the following individuals were incarcerated at the jail between Monday, Feb. 9, and Monday, Feb. 17:
•Amos Bridges, 38, Wolf Point, criminal possession of dangerous drugs; criminal possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest;
•Joel Campos, 37, Las Cruces, N.M., felony possession of dangerous drugs;
•Dale A. Cooper, 38, Wolf Point, arrested on Roosevelt County warrant;
•Ben Deacon, 24, Anchorage, Alaska, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia;
•Rebecca Deacon, 22, Anchorage, Alaska, driving under the influence, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia;
•Kyle Fuchs, 32, Cul-
bertson, disorderly conduct, partner/family member assault, assault with weapon, unlawful restraint, criminal endangerment;
•Christopher Hovey, 25, Lansing, Mich., felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs;
•Bruce Johnson, 57, Poplar, sentenced and awaiting to be transported to Montana State Prison;
•Jason Knight, 37; Spokane, Wash., criminal possession of dangerous drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia;
•Darryl Lewis, 45, San Bernadino, Calif., criminal contempt warrant;
•Robert Lindquist, Chattoroy, Wash., 41, criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia and driving under the influence;
•Anthony Miller, 22, Wolf Point, contempt of court, bonded out Feb. 14.
•Timothy Oglesby, 31, Wolf Point, sexual intercourse without consent and incest, awaiting sentencing;
•Jeremy Sepanski, 30, Plentywood, awaiting transfer to the Montana Department of Corrections and Sheridan County hold;
•Brian B. Suggs, 33, Mesa, Ariz., driving under the influence, criminal endangerment, failure to carry proof of insurance, driving a motor vehicle while the privilege to do so is revoked and fail to stop immediately at property damage accident;
•Deneen Swifteagle, 39, Wolf Point, driving a motor vehicle while suspended; and South Dakota warrant;
•Kouchi Wagner, 44, Kalispell, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia;
•Carroll G. Wells, 35, Fairview, criminal contempt warrant.
Written by John Plestina
This cartoon by retired Miles City Star publisher John Watson ran in the Great Falls Tribune in late January and we are running it with permission from both. This cartoon does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Herald-News. We have also posted a photo of Barry Beach during a 2012 court appearance and an undated photo of Kim Nees, who Beach was convicted of killing more than three decades ago.
The focal point of a hearing before the Montana Supreme Court in Helena Wednesday, Feb. 4, was not whether Barry Beach killed Kim Nees nearly 36 years ago, but rather on the constitutionality of his 100-year sentence without eligibility for parole for a crime that occurred when he was 17 years old.
The high court heard oral arguments on a petition Beach’s attorneys filed in October, asking to be re-sentenced in the 1979 beating death, a crime Beach denies any guilt for.
Beach’s attorneys, Peter Camiel of Seattle, Wash., and Terrance Toavs of Wolf Point argued that Beach, who will turn 53 Feb. 15, was 17 at the time of the murder he was convicted of and that the sentence, which amounts to life in prison, was not legal based on his age at the time of the crime a jury convicted him of in 1984.
The Montana’s Attorney General’s Office argued that the legal precedent does not extend to murder cases.
Toavs cited Miller vs. Alabama, a United States Supreme Court Case in 2012 where the court held by a majority opinion of justices that mandatory sentences of life without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders are unconstitutional under the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which forbids mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for juvenile homicide offenders.
Toavs said youth and its intending characteristics that include controlling temper and how a teenager thinks mitigate on the harshest penalties a court could impose.
Toavs said the Miller vs. Alabama constitutionality argument to the Montana Constitution is new.
“This is unplowed ground here,” Toavs said.
Beach’s mother Bobbie Clincher emerged from the hearing cautiously optimistic.
“We’ve been shot down so many times. It’s hard to be optimistic but I’d like to be,” she told The Herald-News Thursday, Feb. 5.
Clincher said she was told it would take two weeks to two months or longer for the high court to render a decision.
“They say they try to get their decisions rendered within 90 days,” Clincher said.
“It’s hard to say how long the Supreme Court is going to take to decide the appeal,” Toavs said.
“My best guess is it is going to be six months. What we’re talking about is sentencing of children who commit horrible crimes,” he said.
Toavs cited juvenile brain development.
“You can’t judge their conduct as adults based on how they act as juveniles,” he said.
Toavs said there is emerging social understanding on how young people mature and culpability for crimes.
“This is important to Montana,” he said.
Clincher also said a California case was cited where the unconstitutionality of a sentence was ruled retroactive in a challenge to a sentence that was rendered years ago.
“The question is, who do you apply it to [new or old cases]?” Toavs asked.
Toavs said Beach is the only person in Montana who got a 100-year sentence with no parole that is alive today.
Toavs said the court is pondering three possible decisions: to send Beach’s fate back to district court for re-sentencing; remove the no possibility of parole and return the case to the parole board; or rule that Miller vs. Alabama does not apply to Beach’s case and deny the appeal.
Toavs said the most likely outcome would be a decision to send the case back to district court for re-sentencing.
If that occurs, it would likely be before 7th District Judge Katherine Bide-
garay of Sidney, according to Toavs.
Fifteenth District Judge David Cybulski recused himself from a hearing for Beach several years ago because he had denied a petition for post conviction relief and was reversed on appeal.
“Our hope would be that [Bidegaray] would sentence him to no longer than 30 years, which he has already served,” Clincher said.
Beach has never wavered on his assertion of innocence in the 1979 murder of his Poplar High School classmate.
The conviction in 17th District Court in Glasgow in April 1984 was based on Beach confessing to the crime following an interrogation by investigators from a Louisiana sheriff’s office, but later said his confession was coerced.
Daily newspapers in Billings, Great Falls and Missoula have reported that people from Poplar other than Beach claimed responsibility for the murder and some said they witnessed people other than Beach killing Nees.
There were allegations that the Poplar Police Department had contaminated evidence shortly after the Nees murder.
Marc Racicot, who served as governor from 1993 to 2001, was an assistant attorney general in 1984 and was appointed special prosecutor for the state’s case against Beach.
Dateline NBC reported in 2008 that Racicot told jurors to ignore all evidence police had contaminated.
The Missoulian reported during Beach’s first clemency hearing in 2007 that Racicot, while still maintaining his assertion that Beach was guilty, admitted that the crime scene was contaminated by the investigation by multiple law enforcement agencies.
According to the Dateline NBC transcript, Camiel said the prosecution told the jury they had evidence they didn’t actually have.
Dateline’s Keith Morrison asked Camiel, “Are you saying that the prosecutor in the trial actually crossed an ethical line in terms of what he failed to tell the jury and what he alleged to the jury that wasn’t true?”
Camiel’s responded, “There was misconduct.”
Montana courts other than the 17th District have reviewed the case and ruled that there was no misconduct.
In June, the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole rejected an application for a full clemency hearing for Beach. He also had an unsuccessful bid for clemency in 2007.
Written by John Plestina
Newly hired Shopko employees draped this canvas sign announcing that Shopko will open on the front of the former ALCO store on U.S. Hwy 2 in Wolf Point, Thursday, Feb. 5. ALCO, which has been in bankruptcy since October 2014, closed the Wolf Point store Friday, Jan. 30. A Shopko Hometown store will open at the site by the end of March. (Photo by John Plestina)
An opening date has not been made public, but Shopko announced Friday, Feb. 6, that it will open during late March in the now shuttered ALCO building at 600 U.S. Hwy. 2 in Wolf Point.
“We were able to announce it today because we were waiting for the final paperwork to be signed,” Shopko manager of public relations Michelle Hansen said.
She could only estimate when the store will open.
“We’re hoping by the end of March “We’ve got some painting. We’ve got to get our merchandise in, so the end of March is our target date,” Hanson said.
Shopko has hired local employees and a canvas sign announcing that a Shopko Hometown store will open at that location was draped on the front of the building Thursday, Feb. 5.
The conversion to Shopko Hometown will include new interior and exterior signage, carpet, paint, updated and supplement fixtures and lighting, and a new easy to shop store layout, according to a Shopko press release.
Shopko is a 53-year-old, $3 billion, 320-store retail chain operating in 21 states and headquartered in Green Bay, Wisc.
With the addition of the Wolf Point location, there will be 175 Shopko Hometown stores, which are designed for communities with populations under 10,000. The remainder of the Shopko locations operate in larger cities. Shopko is one of the nation’s largest retailers serving smaller communities.
Shopko acquired the former Pamida chain in 2012, which allowed for the expansion into Glasgow.
“The Shopko Hometown retail format, developed to augment Shopko’s larger store model and focused on serving the needs of smaller rural communities, provides a broad and dynamic offering of strong national brands and high-value private label brands of apparel, home furnishings, toys, consumer electronics, seasonal items, every day consumable items and lawn and garden products – all in an attractive, well laid out, easy-to-shop store format,” Shopko said in a prepared statement.
“We’re excited to bring Shopko Hometown to Wolf Point,” Shopko CEO Peter McMahon said in the prepared statement.
“The Shopko Hometown store format, featuring our unique merchandising strategy and improved store design, is an ideal fit for the location with its exceptional service and community-minded approach. We understand that consumers in smaller towns are looking for value and convenience without having to travel outside the community. Customers of our Hometown stores tell us they appreciate the vastly improved shopping experience and access to a broad, differentiated selection of merchandise, including products and brands previously not available in their community,” he said.
The Shopko Hometown in Glasgow includes a pharmacy and sells some groceries.
Hanson said a pharmacy is not planned for the Wolf Point store at this time. She said the Wolf Point Shopko will sell some grocery items.
ALCO, which has been in bankruptcy since October 2014, closed the Wolf Point store Friday, Jan. 30.
All 198 ALCOs in 23 states across the nation began a going-out-of-business sale in November 2014, less than six weeks after it’s Texas-headquartered parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The court approved a chain-wide liquidation sale of more than $260 million of inventory and fixtures in late November.
The Wolf Point ALCO was a ghost of what it once was with little merchandise remaining on the shelves by late January.
Only some of the closed ALCO stores are becoming Shopko locations.
Oppidan Investment Company, a Minnetonka, Minn., commercial developer, is developing 14 former ALCO locations for Shopko in four states that include Montana and North Dakota.
The developer confirmed that Shopko was wanting to locate in Wolf Point at least two months prior to the ALCO bankruptcy filing. After ALCO’s parent company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Oppidan’s focus shifted from developing 10 acres of the 25-acre former Great Northern Railroad roundhouse site owned by the Wolf Point Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture to purchasing the 25,000-square-foot ALCO building. (See related story.)
An affiliate of the Boca Raton, Fla., headquartered Sun Capital Partners Inc., owns Shopko. Sun Capital Partners is an international private investment firm focused on leverage buyouts, equity, debt and other investments in market-leading companies, according to a Shopko press release. Sun Capital affiliates have invested in more than 330 companies worldwide with combined sales in excess of $45 billion since its inception in 1995.
More information about Shopko is available at www.shopko.com.