Wyoming man due to plead guilty in Montana double murder
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A 19-year-old Wyoming man is set to plead guilty to a double-murder on Montana’s Crow Reservation under an agreement with federal prosecutors that would send him to prison for life.
Jesus Deniz Mendoza was scheduled to appear at a Tuesday hearing before U.S. District Judge Susan Watters in Billings.
The Worland man agreed to plead guilty to two counts of second degree murder, assault with intent to commit murder, three counts of using a firearm in a violent crime and assault with a dangerous weapon.
He was charged with killing Jason and Tana Shane and wounding their daughter after the family stopped to help him on a roadside near Pryor in July 2015.
Prosecutors say Mendoza later returned to the scene and shot at three people who’d responded to the attack.
Butte man found dead after explosion shot himself
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — An autopsy determined that a 32-year-old Butte man who was found dead after a homemade bomb exploded in his house died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Butte-Silver Bow County Coroner Lee LaBreche says the man also had wounds from the explosion of a propane tank, which was part of a bomb. Two other unexploded homemade bombs were found in the residence after the explosion on Saturday evening.
Firefighters found the victim on the couch in the living room. When police found the other bombs neighbors were evacuated until the Missoula bomb squad arrived and cleared the scene.
MSU officials: Record enrollment justifies campus upgrades
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Montana State University official say record-high enrollment shows the campus needs upgrades that are currently being debated in the state Legislature.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that MSU spokesman and lobbyist Tracy Ellig said Monday that with nearly 600 more students on campus this spring than last, MSU needs the renovations to Romney Hall that would add more classrooms.
MSU has asked lawmakers to approve $28 million to renovate Romney Hall, a historic gym building in the center of campus. The past two requests have been denied. Lawmakers are still considering a budget package that would include funds for the renovation.
MSU’s spring enrollment was up 4.84 percent compared to spring 2016. Overall, spring enrollment has grown by 21.4 percent since 2011.
The Latest: GOP delegates pick Gianforte as House candidate
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Republicans have chosen technology entrepreneur Greg Gianforte as their candidate for the special election to fill the U.S. House seat left open when Ryan Zinke left to become interior secretary.
Gianforte will face Democratic nominee Rob Quist in the May 25 election.
Republicans from county committees across the state chose Gianforte over six other potential candidates in a special nominating convention held Monday in Helena.
Gianforte is attempting a political comeback after his defeat last fall in the governor’s race against the Democratic incumbent, Steve Bullock. He says that Montana needs a representative who is willing to work with President Donald Trump’s administration.
Gianforte has pledged to run for a second term in 2018 if he wins this year. Zinke and the previous office holder, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, both served only one term.
Attorney gets 1 year supervision for DUI with kids in car
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Billings attorney who was convicted of driving drunk with three children in her car has been fined $2,000 and will be supervised for one year.
The Billings Gazette reports 39-year-old Michele Lynn Braukmann was sentenced Monday for criminal child endangerment and aggravated DUI.
Montana Highway Patrol troopers who pulled her over April 16 found an open bottle of vodka in her vehicle. Her blood-alcohol content was more than three times the legal limit.
Braukmann was in the car with her two sons and an 11-year-old passenger.
She entered treatment for chemical dependency soon after her arrest and still attends meetings for her alcohol addiction. Braukmann apologized multiple times in court Monday.
State responds to appeal over definition of usable marijuana
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The state argues a Billings medical marijuana cardholder charged with possessing more than an ounce of undried marijuana can appeal a pre-trial ruling after the District Court case is decided.
Wayne Steven Penning sought to have the charge dismissed, arguing that humid marijuana does not fall under the state’s definition of usable marijuana and is not subject to the one-ounce possession limit. District Judge Rod Souza said that was an issue for a jury to decide.
Penning asked the Supreme Court to overturn Souza’s ruling, which Penning said effectively made it illegal for medical marijuana patients to harvest their plants without having to destroy most of their crop.
The Billings Gazette reports the state’s reply, filed March 1, says Penning’s issue is not an emergency and that there are some uses for humid marijuana.