Written by John Plestina
The Montana Supreme Court handed down a 4-3, 68-page decision, Tuesday, May 5, rejecting former Poplar resident Barry Beach’s petition be re-sentenced for his conviction of a 1979 beating death, a crime Beach denies any guilt for.
Beach’s attorneys filed the petition in October 2014 and Montana’s highest court heard oral arguments on Feb. 4.
Beach sought relief from a 100-year prison sentence he had received in 1984 for the 1979 murder of Kimberly Nees, a Poplar High School classmate.
His attorneys argued that Beach, now 53, was 17 years old when the murder occurred 36 years ago and that a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision created limits on life sentences given to juveniles.
The high court, however, ruled that the 2012 federal Supreme Court decision could not be applied to cases prior to 2012.
While the Supreme Court petition failed to garner a new sentencing and Beach has tried unsuccessfully twice for clemency before the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole, including in 2014, his possible freedom might have been legislated in the halls of the Montana State Capital earlier this year with the passage of House Bill 43 that Gov. Steve Bullock signed into law, granting him and future governors final authority in clemency decisions.
The new law that will take effect Oct. 15, will grant the Montana governor clemency powers similar to those held by a majority of governors and allow the governor to release state prisoners, even if the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole previously denied clemency applications.
Currently, Montana’s Board of Pardons and Parole is one of only eight in the nation that have the final say on clemency petitions.
Bullock wrote to that board in April 2014, while a clemency application was pending for Beach, saying he believed Beach deserved an opportunity for rehabilitation outside of prison.
Beach has never wavered on his assertion of innocence. His conviction in 17th District Court in Glasgow was based on Beach confessing to the crime following an interrogation by investigators from a Louisiana sheriff’s office. He has maintained that the confession was coerced with aggressive tactics.
Other people have claimed responsibility for the murder and some said they witnessed people other than Beach killing Nees.
Written by John Plestina
A local man is hoping to break ground later this month for a BMX dirt track that the Fort Peck Tribes recently donated a land lease for on U.S. Hwy. 2, east of Ninth Avenue North, near West End Housing.
“The tribal executive board granted me a five-year lease,” Wolf Point resident David Gonzales said.
“I want to break ground by the third week of May,” he said.
Gonzales said it should take about four weeks from the groundbreaking for the BMX dirt park to be ready to open.
Gonzales said he wants to form a group or committee for fundraising for initial costs that include dirt, water and use of equipment. He said he is also hoping to include community members and local youth in building the park.
“I’m going to be doing a couple of fundraisers the next couple of months,” Gonzales said.
He said he can help kids get bikes at no cost.
Gonzales said Dakota Dollar Store, Gysler Do It Best Hardware, Wolf Point Sand and Gravel and Fort Peck Tribal Housing are all involved in the project.
The park will be open to the public.
For more information or to volunteer, contact Gonzales at 697-3541.
Written by John Plestina
An 18-year-old Culbertson woman was arraigned in 15th District Court Wednesday, April 29, for three felonies and one misdemeanor that authorities allege she committed when she was 17.
Shelby Lynn Friede appeared before District Judge David Cybulski in an open preceding and pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs, one misdemeanor charge of criminal possession of dangerous drugs and felony tampering with physical evidence.
An Aug. 13 trial date was assigned.
Assistant Roosevelt County Attorney Jordan Knudsen said there is a possibility that the case could be transferred to youth court.
Friede has been free on bond since her arrest Feb. 17, nearly six weeks before her 18th birthday. She turned 18 March 29.
Roosevelt County Sheriff Jason Frederick, RCSO Sgt. Patrick O’Connor, adult probation and parole officer Darrin Moser and several RCSO deputies arrested Friede Feb. 17, during a probation search at the Culbertson residence of Michael Monson, 59.
Court documents list Monson as both the father and grandfather of Friede. It is not clear which is correct.
According to charging documents, the RCSO received information alleging drug trafficking at Monson’s home, specifically allegations that Friede was selling and using drugs.
The charging documents allege that Friede told officers she had thrown drugs on the roof of the house before the search after Monson warned her that the house was going to be searched. The charging documents further allege that Frederick and a deputy recovered a fanny pack from the roof, which contained about a half ounce of marijuana, two pipes and several packets of marijuana seeds. The court papers also allege that Friede admitted that the items in the fanny pack were hers, admitted to selling marijuana to people in Cul-
bertson and Williston, N.D., and admitted using several drugs including methamphetamine and cocaine.
Friede was reported to have been living in Monson’s home.
He is on probation after being sentenced in December 2014 to four years deferred imposition of sentence and a $4,000 fine.
He pleaded guilty in July 2014 to criminal endangerment on a change of plea for an incident that occurred in Culbertson Jan. 14. He was originally charged with felony assault with a weapon and was alleged to have pointed a .22 caliber handgun at a 12-year-old girl and threatened to shoot her after she threatened him with a knife. Monson was alleged to have been intoxicated at the time of the incident.
Written by Herald-News
Participants in the 2015 Montana Hunter Education class at Fort Peck Community College in Wolf Point completed the 15-hour course, field course exercise and final exam Monday April 27, followed by an informal graduation ceremony with awards and a cake. Montana law requires all persons born after Jan. 1, 1985, must show a certificate of completing a hunter education course. Hunting incidents have drastically decreased over the last 30 years since states have required hunter education, while the number of hunters has increased. The graduates pictured above are (front row, left to right) Shastin Damon, Seth Bowman, Susannah Bowman, Ben Boysun, Austin Fullerton, Dominique Gourneau, Daniel Kuszmaul, Abel Garfield, (back row) Al Macalisang, Karah Bowman, Jason Eylander, Daniel Sears, Keyvin Fourbear, Gabe Sweet, Kobe Silk, Demi Kegley, Joleigh Petrik and Kariel Forest. Ashley Iwen is not pictured. Instructors for the Wolf Point class were Shane Reed, Scott Kinzie, Bill Dasinger, Scott Vandall, Roger Wimmer and Tommy Escarcega. All states and Canadian provinces that have mandatory hunter education requirements will accept Montana Hunter Education certifications and Montana accepts certifications issued by other states and provinces that meet official IHEA-USA requirements. Several Wolf Point businesses donated items for perfect attendance and top test scores. They included Bryan’s, Gysler Hardware, Hi-Line Sports, McDonald’s, NAPA, State Farm Insurance and Will’s Office World.
Written by Herald-News
Northside School students Andy Follet, Faith Four Star and Codi Jones look over one of the many centennial displays on classroom doors at the school depicting Wolf Point history. The public is invited to come to Northside, get a visitor’s pass at the office and view the doors. Everyone can vote for one or more favorites by depositing coins in containers marked for each door or display. Northside will also be hosting a Celebration of Learning later in May when family and community members may view the displays. (Submitted photo)