1 pleads not guilty, 1 denied release in Bundy case in Vegas
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Another defendant pleaded not guilty Wednesday to federal charges in Las Vegas stemming from an armed confrontation between backers of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and government agents two years ago.
Peter Santilli identified himself as a radio talk show host before a magistrate judge who ordered him detained pending trial on conspiracy, obstruction, weapon and assault on a federal officer charges.
In another courtroom, U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro denied Idaho resident Steven Stewart’s bid for freedom ahead of trial with a total of 19 people, including Bundy.
To date, none have been freed following their arrests.
Prosecutors showed photos of Stewart wielding an assault-style rifle during the standoff.
Santilli is one of several defendants in the Nevada case also accused of leading an Oregon wildlife refuge takeover this year.
Authorities release details on Ramsay murder-suicide
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — Butte-Silver Bow County law enforcement officials are releasing more information about the murder-suicide that claimed the lives of a Ramsay-area couple last week.
Sheriff Ed Lester said Wednesday that 70-year-old Larry Farrell shot his 48-year-old wife, Michelle “Rae” Farrell, in the chest three times. Her body was found on the living room floor of their residence about 12 miles west of Butte.
Two Great Dane dogs were shot, but authorities don’t know who shot them. Farrell shot himself in the temple. Lester says the gun was found near his body.
Lester says no suicide note was found and investigators don’t know what led to the shootings.
Five other pets found in the residence were taken to the animal shelter.
Montana campaign regulator says lawmaker took dark money
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana’s campaign regulator is making his case to a jury that a state lawmaker coordinated with and received services from dark-money groups in 2010 that didn’t register or disclose the contributions.
Rep. Art Wittich’s attorney tried to undercut Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl’s argument later Wednesday by suggesting Motl’s biases led him to pursue an investigation against the Bozeman Republican.
Wittich is on trial over allegations that his campaign took illegal corporate contributions. He could be removed from office if a jury upholds Motl’s findings.
Motl says Wittich reported only $500 spent on data, consulting and website work, but received services worth far more than that from eight corporations affiliated with an anti-union group.
Wittich attorney Quentin Rhoades says Wittich paid for and reported the services he received.
Wyoming Game and Fish takes grizzly plan public comment
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission is holding its first public hearing on how the state will manage grizzly bears when they come off of the endangered species list.
The federal government is proposing to lift threatened-species protections for grizzlies that live in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.
The decision could lead to future hunts for the bears in the three states for the first time since the 1970s. There are an estimated 700 to 1,000 grizzly bears in the three states.
A federal judge this week sided with environmental groups in holding that federal agencies failed to justify their decision to increase the number of grizzlies that elk hunters at Grand Teton National Park could kill if necessary in self-defense. The judge rejected an overall challenge to elk hunting there.
Livingston officers found justified in fatal shooting
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A jury has found that the officers involved in the fatal shooting of a man in Livingston were justified in their use of deadly force.
The Billings Gazette reports that the jury reached their decision Wednesday as part of a coroner’s inquest into the January death of 37-year-old Sean O’Brien.
Two police officers fired shots at O’Brien on Jan. 2 near Shopko after they said he pulled a knife on them. Police said they had tried to use a stun gun to subdue O’Brien, but it was not effective.
O’Brien died at the scene.
Park County Coroner Albert Jenkins says both officers, Kevin Engle and Andrew Emanuel, testified at Wednesday’s inquest.
The Park County Attorney’s Office can still decide to file charges in the case.
Attorney General subdues unruly man after energy conference
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Police got help in handling a man who was throwing punches at bystanders at a Billings hotel from Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, who held the man down on the ground until officers arrived.
The Billings Gazette reports that police Capt. Kevin Iffland says the man became unruly Tuesday night after the Montana Energy Conference.
Fox says he intervened after the suspect tried to punch Sen. Steve Daines’ chief of staff, Jason Thielman, but then he got hit in the face as he tried to calm the man down.
The 58-year-old attorney general was eventually able to subdue the man until police arrived minutes later.
Fox says police asked if he wanted to press charges against the suspect, but he said no.
Hardin woman denies new abuse charges
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Hardin woman who is serving 20 years in prison for the March 2015 death of her boyfriend’s 6-year-old daughter has pleaded not guilty to charges alleging she abused the girl in the month before she died.
The Billings Gazette reports 27-year-old Kerstyn Old Bull pleaded not guilty Tuesday to two counts of aggravated assault, four counts of assault on a minor and one count of criminal child endangerment.
Old Bull was sentenced in February after pleading guilty to criminal child endangerment and obstructing justice in the death of Kiomora “Kiki” Hogan.
The additional charges allege that Old Bull caused the girl to suffer burns, a cracked rib and multiple bruises and that she talked the girl’s father into waiting to take her to the hospital after causing the fatal injuries.
Cruz questions signatures that put Kasich on Montana ballot
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign is trying to knock Republican opponent John Kasich out of Montana’s June 7 primary by questioning the signatures the Ohio governor’s campaign submitted to qualify for the ballot.
The Cruz campaign asserts that Kasich’s petition to be placed on the ballot contains signatures with invalid notaries, improper dates, mismatched phone numbers, illegible names, among other potential discrepancies.
The campaign hasn’t officially contested the signatures by filing a lawsuit. The ballots are to be printed by mid-April.
Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch says Kasich’s name will remain on the ballot unless a judge orders otherwise.
Greg Frank, who co-chairs the Kasich’s Montana campaign, stands by the validity of the signatures, many of which he collected himself. He calls the effort to bounce Kasich from the ballot as “dirty politics.”
2 men, 2 companies charged in Chippewa Cree corruption case
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — A Billings contractor and a member of the Chippewa Cree tribal business committee face federal charges related to the purchase of an overpriced and unneeded asphalt plant by the tribe’s construction company.
Kevin David McGovern and tribal member Brian Kelly Eagleman face charges of conspiracy and scheme to defraud the Chippewa Cree Tribe, theft from an Indian tribal organization and bribery. Both pleaded not guilty Tuesday during their arraignments in U.S. District Court in Great Falls.
Prosecutors allege McGovern approached Tony Belcourt, CEO of Chippewa Cree Construction Corp., in 2011 saying his would give Belcourt a “finder’s fee” if he could get the tribe to pay more than his $1.2 million purchase price for the asphalt plant.
Charging documents say the tribe bought the plant for $1.7 million and several officials, including Eagleman, received a total of $320,000 in kickbacks.
Native American ‘code talker’ Gilbert Horn Sr dies at 92
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — Gilbert Horn Sr., a World War II veteran honored for his service as a Native American code talker, has died of natural causes. He was 92.
Kirkwood Funeral Home says Horn died Sunday at Northern Montana Care Center in Havre. He is survived by 10 of his 11 children.
Horn was born on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in 1923. He enlisted in the U.S. Army at 17. He joined other Indians who used their native languages to send coded messages during World War II.
The Great Falls Tribune reports Horn also was a member of Merrill’s Marauders, whose mission was to cut Japanese communications and supply lines in the Burmese jungle. He received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.
He served on the Fort Belknap tribal council for 19 years and was a tribal judge for eight years.
Stevensville man on trial for selling machine gun kits
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A Stevensville man is on trial for charges that he illegally sold Uzi machine gun parts online.
Prosecutors accuse Kyle Wick of welding together decommissioned Uzis and selling them whole or as a group of parts through an online gun broker.
He is charged with transferring firearms that hadn’t been registered, failing to register or pay taxes on the gun sales and selling the guns without a license.
Wick has pleaded not guilty to the charges. His trial began Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Missoula.
Prosecutors say a confidential informant bought a kit in 2013 for $1,200 and received instructions from Wick on how to turn it into a working gun.
They say Wick told authorities he had sold several dozen kits and did all the welding himself in his garage.
Montana officials trying to kill sheep from diseased herdBOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Montana officials are trying to kill a handful of bighorn sheep in the Tendoy Mountains, the last members of a disease-prone herd they have been trying to eradicate.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Craig Fager says department staff have killed three sheep in the area since December and believe about five are left.
The bighorns introduced to the mountains in 1985 suffered pneumonia die-offs in 1993 and 1999. Wildlife officials hope to replace the herd with healthier, genetically pure wild sheep.
FWP sold hunting licenses for the sheep, but Fager says hunters only killed 23 of them. FWP decided to finish the job on its own.
The state donated meat from two of the sheep it killed. The third wasn’t salvageable.