Jury clears Butte officer who shot, killed armed man
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — A jury has cleared a Butte police officer of wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of a man who authorities say pulled a gun on the officer as he responded to a domestic disturbance.
The Montana Standard reports that the jury’s decision Tuesday was part of a coroner’s inquest into last year’s death of 36-year-old Peter Grandpre.
Lt. John O’Brien testified he shot Grandpre after responding to a call from Grandpre’s wife that her husband was drunk, throwing objects around the house and had two guns. Two children, ages 4 and 6, also were in the home.
O’Brien had been wearing a body camera at the time. After watching the video of the June shooting, Butte-Silver Bow County Sheriff Ed Lester had said the officer acted appropriately.
Driver dead after colliding with semi in western Montana
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Authorities say one person has died after a head-on collision involving a semitrailer in western Montana.
The Independent Record reports that 40-year-old Kris Harrison died at the scene of the Tuesday crash in East Helena. Authorities say the victim was from Great Falls but living and working in Helena at the time.
Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Amanda Villa says Harrison was headed east in a Chevy Malibu when he crossed into the westbound lane and struck a semitrailer head-on. The semi had been carrying an empty car hauler.
Harrison’s car spun into a ditch while the semitrailer went into an opposite ditch.
The driver of the semitrailer was treated for minor injuries at the crash site and released.
Utility warns Colstrip closure could come earlier than 2022
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Washington state utility says the partial closure of Montana’s Colstrip power plant could come earlier than planned, depending on the actions of a plant co-owner and Montana lawmakers.
Documents released Tuesday detail Puget Sound Energy’s plan to retire two of Colstrip’s four generating units. The 2,100-megawatt facility is one of the largest coal plants in the U.S. West.
Puget Sound reached an agreement last year with environmentalists that requires the two units to close by July 2022.
But Puget Sound says that could happen sooner given that co-owner Talen Energy wants to exit its role as the plant’s operator by mid-2018.
Puget Sound also suggests an early closure could be prompted by a proposed wholesale energy tax increase in Montana that’s aimed at helping the community of Colstrip.
Inmate sentenced for trying to hire someone to kill ex-wife
AIKEN, S.C. (AP) — A 48-year-old Montana man who was near the end of a 10-year federal sentence for trying to hire a hit man to kill his estranged wife in 2006 has been sentenced to just over 11 years for again trying to hire someone to kill her and the man who went to authorities after spending the money he received for the first hit.
The Aiken Standard reports (bit.ly/2k2afpR) Shane Douglas Sichting (SEEK’-ting) Jr. was sentenced Jan. 13. The former resident of Libby, Montana, pleaded guilty in September to using interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder for hire and retaliating against an informant.
Prosecutors say Sichting approached another inmate at a federal prison in South Carolina in July 2015 about killing his ex-wife and the man he hired to kill her. The inmate went to the FBI and Sichting told his plans to an undercover officer.
Mountain lions killed after killing 2 dogs
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — State wildlife officials killed a female mountain lion and three kittens after they killed two dogs on the northwestern edge of Missoula, near a school bus stop in the Grant Creek area.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks wildlife management specialist Jaime Jonkel tells the Missoulian the adult female killed a 35-pound dog on Sunday. Wardens decided the mountain lions needed to be removed and killed two of the kittens on Monday.
They were waiting for the adult and the other kitten near where the first dog had been cached when they received a call that another dog had been killed.
Jonkel says a game warden was able to kill the other mountain lions while they were feeding on the dog.
Judge lets federal flaring rules take effect during lawsuit
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — New rules against burning off excess natural gas from oil and gas wells on public land are taking effect after a federal judge refused to block them pending the outcome of a lawsuit.
U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl in Casper ruled Monday he can’t immediately conclude the Interior Department oversteps its authority with the rules requiring gas to be captured rather than flared.
The rules seek to reduce air pollution and gas waste. They took effect Tuesday but Skavdahl points out certain provisions aren’t effective for another year.
Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota and two petroleum-industry groups wanted the rules blocked immediately, saying in a lawsuit they exceed Interior’s proper authority.
Environmentalists praised the decision while the Western Energy Alliance says it’s confident the states and industry will prevail in court.