Butte man found guilty of killing his father
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — A 25-year-old Butte man has been convicted of killing his father in November 2008.
Jurors in Butte deliberated for about 11 hours Thursday before finding Adam Hatfield guilty of deliberate homicide in the death of Matt Hatfield.
Prosecutors said Matt Hatfield was beaten with a baseball bat in a cabin south of Butte that he shared with his 18-year-old son, who then disposed of the body.
Part of Matt Hatfield’s skull was found by a research scientist in October 2010. State crime lab experts testified that the DNA from Hatfield’s skull matched blood on the wall of the cabin and on a baseball bat found outside the cabin.
Defense attorney David Vicevich argued the state did not prove its case because it did not test the bat handle for fingerprints.
Judges explain efforts to improve handling of abuse cases
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana courts are working to streamline their handling of child abuse and neglect cases and improve the results for children and their families. District Judge Ingrid Gustafson of Billings appeared before the Protect Montana Kids Commission on Thursday. She says social workers, parents and a mediator hold a pre-hearing conference to identify what led to the court’s involvement and to determine if the parents are willing to make improvements. They pinpoint what kind of treatment, evaluation or education the parents might need. Five years ago, the District Court in Yellowstone County terminated parental rights in 45 percent of abuse and neglect cases.
Removing dam to help prehistoric fish could be costly
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A proposal to remove a rock dam from the Yellowstone River so an endangered, prehistoric fish species can reach its spawning grounds could cost far more than a government plan to construct a new dam and fish bypass. The existing, low-profile dam near the Montana-North Dakota border for decades has prevented an aging population of pallid sturgeon from swimming upstream. A federal judge recently blocked a $59 million plan to build a concrete dam and a bypass channel for sturgeon. Environmentalists had sued, claiming there was no proof the bypass would work. Steve Forrest with Defenders of Wildlife says removing the rock dam and installing pumps to provide water to farmers along the Yellowstone could cost several times the original project’s price tag, but would be better for sturgeon.
$205 million loss for Cloud Peak coal company as exports sag
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — One of the largest coal mining companies in the Western U.S. is reporting a $205 million loss for 2015 after pinning its hopes for growth on an export market in Asia that has fizzled. The results for Wyoming-based Cloud Peak Energy add to the litany of bad news for an industry hit by bankruptcies, low prices and tightening pollution rules. The company attributed $58 million of its losses to weak international coal prices. Chief executive officer Colin Marshall says 2016 will be another difficult year for coal miners. Cloud Peak’s coal shipments dropped 13 percent to 75 million last year.
MSUB gets funding boost for performance
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana State University Billings has received the $760,000 in state funding it was initially denied after the university showed improvements to its degree completion and retention rates. The Billings Gazette reports the university was given the performance-based funding through a Montana State University program that rewards schools for boosting enrollment, degree completion and student retention. MSUB was the state’s only university denied full funding after it failed to report the required 1 percent improvement in those areas. MSUB Chancellor Mark Nook says the university became eligible for the funding after it factored in data from other schools where Billings students had transferred.
State Senate passes bill involving Colstrip plants
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A bill that would authorize the state’s largest utility to create a fund to pay for the eventual shutdown of two coal-fired power plants in Montana has easily passed the Washington State Senate. Senate Bill 6248 passed by a vote of 42-7 on Wednesday and now heads to the House for consideration. The bill was amended to remove any provisions calling for the closure of two older coal-fired plants located in the company town of Colstrip, Montana. Bill sponsor Sen. Doug Erickson, R-Ferndale, said the measure now simply authorizes Puget Sound Energy to fund a “retirement account” to cover future decommissioning and remediation costs of the power plants, but only if they are closed after 2023.