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Lake County District Court news for April 8, 2010

Judge C.B. McNeil dealt with the following cases on Wednesday, March 31, 2010: 

Bryan Healy, 19, of Polson was found guilty of felony burglary and received a deferred sentence of three years, sentenced to 14 days in jail, ordered to pay restitution of $611 and fined $370.

According to court records, the charge stems from a Jan. 13 incident when a boy's father called 911 to report a burglary.

The son stated that after he came home from school, he discovered that the door to the garage was open and a flat screen TV, XBox and several games were missing. Serial numbers were provided and the TV was worth more than $1,000.

Two days later, the boy received a tip from a friend at school that someone had bought a new TV from Cote Wheeler, but didn't know that it was stolen.

The next day, Bryan Healy and Cheyenne Morton returned the TV to the owners. In an interview with the detective, he said that he drove to the residence with Morton's older brother and admitted to taking the games and XBox and took them to an apartment. The stolen items were later found during a search of the apartment.

Michael Gilbert Turpin, 48, of Ronan, was found guilty of felony criminal endangerment and misdemeanor driving while license was suspended or revoked. He was found guilty of both offenses and received a deferred sentence of three years and was sentenced to 30 days in jail for criminal endangerment. For driving while license suspended or revoked, he was sentenced to six months in jail with all suspended but two days. He was also fined $945.

According to court records, Turpin was stopped by Montana Highway Patrol Troopers Aug. 21, 2009 on U.S. Highway 93 near Pablo after the troopers observed the car he was driving nearly hit the guardrail, driving slowly and crossing the fog line and center line several times. 

Ronee D. Martin, 21, of St. Ignatius, was found guilty of felony issuing a bad check and received a deferred sentence of six years, was sentenced to 10 days in jail, fined $180 and was ordered to pay restitution in full as determined by her probation officer.

According to court records, the charge stems from a Sept. 16, 2009 incident when a Tribal Police Officer received a report from Eagle Bank in Polson regarding a run of bad checks.

The officer reviewed bank reports that stated that Martin opened a checking account on Aug. 5, 2009 with an opening balance of $600. That same day Martin withdrew $300 and the following day, another $300 was withdrawn.

She then made a deposit of $10 and wrote a check for $9.60. Between Aug. 19 and Sept. 18, 2009, Martin wrote 69 checks, totaling $3,181.39. Martin did not make any deposits during this time.

The officer noticed that the signatures appeared to be consistent with each other. One merchant recognized Martin when she accepted the check.

Nickie Dean Gardiner, 53, of Missoula, pleaded not guilty to felony driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, fourth or subsequent offense and misdemeanor, driving while license is suspended or revoked.

According to court records, the charges stem from a Feb. 28 incident when Flathead Tribal Police Officer observed a vehicle northbound on U.S. Highway 93 near St. Ignatius going 32 mph in a 65 mph zone. The officer pulled the vehicle over after observing it drift over the center line and also into a turning lane.

The driver, identified as Gardiner, admitted that he had been drinking earlier. A records check by Lake County dispatch showed that Gardiner has four prior DUI convictions. He scored six out of six possible clues of impairment on the HGN test, but refused to take a breath test and said he had knee problems and could not perform the walk and turn test.

A Lake County Sheriff's Deputy arrived and asked if Gardiner would perform some sobriety tests. He agreed to the HGN, but refused all others. He again scored six out of six. The deputy also noticed that his breath smelled of an alcoholic beverage, his eyes were glossy and slightly red.

Alan L. Kibler, 24, of St. Ignatius, pleaded not guilty to felonies aggravated assault, criminal endangerment, assault on a minor and misdemeanors criminal destruction of or tampering with a communication device and unlawful restraint.

Kibler remains in custody and a bond has been reduced to the amount of $10,000.

An omnibus hearing is set for Wednesday, May 5 at 9 a.m.

According to court records, the charges stem from a call made by a woman that said a young female with small child came to her home looking for help. A deputy came to investigate and observed that the woman was very upset, had blood on her face, and numerous cockleburs were stuck in her hair and on her sweatshirt. She told the deputy that when she came home the front door was locked so she went in the back and noticed that the window was broken and the door was unlocked. Kibler was inside and they began to argue and then he slammed her through a door in the house and began to strangle her.

He prevented her from calling 911 and pushed her against the front door when she was holding her child, causing the child's leg to be lodged between the woman and the door. She eventually climbed out of a bedroom window with her child and ran into the woods. Kibler was then found hiding in the bedroom of the home and was placed under arrest.

Mark Nicholas Mergenthaler, 37, of Bigfork, pleaded not guilty to felonies aggravated assault, attempt burglary, intimidation, tampering with witnesses and informants and misdemeanors partner or family member assault and assault.

Mergenthaler remains in custody with bond set in the amount of $250,000.

An omnibus hearing is set for Wednesday, April 21 at 9 a.m.

According to court records, the charges stem from a March 4 incident when a Lake County Sheriff's Deputy responded to a home in Woods Bay where the owner stated that his neighbor had been assaulted. When the deputy arrived, he observed that a woman's feet were covered in blood, and blood spatters and smears were all over her body. In the woman's home, the deputy observed a trail of blood leading from the kitchen to a hallway. The woman told the deputy that Mergenthaler became agitated and began to punch her. He kicked, shoved, and pushed her onto the floor and put her in a choke hold. She had injuries to her nose and also to her wrist. 

The neighbors told the deputy that shortly after they had called law enforcement, Mergenthaler came to the house, banging on the door and threatened to kill the woman if she put him in jail and then drove away.

Law enforcement officials located Mergenthaler's vehicle in the Evergreen area of Kalispell. He was seen running into the woods when they approached the home.

 

Judge Deborah K. Christopher dealt with the following cases on Thursday, March 31, 2010:

Becci Lynn Snowden, 39, of Missoula, changed her plea to guilty and admitted to felony assault on a peace officer. She was found guilty and sentencing is set for Thursday, May 6 at 9 a.m.

According to court records, the charges stem from a Nov. 22, 2009 incident when a St. Ignatius Police Officer observed a vehicle going northbound on U.S. Highway 93 near Mountain View Drive and then pulled to a stop near the officer's vehicle. The officer thought that the driver had seen him parked there and wished to speak with him.

The officer then pulled behind the vehicle, and was on a motorist assist. Once pulled over, the driver of the vehicle, identified as Snowden, told the officer that she was lost and was trying to go to Missoula, even though she was northbound on U.S. Highway 93. The officer observed that he smelled the odor of an alcoholic beverage from her breath and her eyes were bloodshot and glossy. She admitted to drinking earlier that day and agreed to a breath sample.

While she was waiting in the back of the patrol car, in between the 20-minute deprivation period to ensure she did not ingest anything, she asked the officer if she could go home as she had two 16-year-olds at home. The officer denied the request. The officer explained that if her test resulting in a BAC under the legal limit, she would not be allowed to drive home as he believed her to be impaired.

She became argumentative, and did not properly blow into the mouthpiece to provide a breath sample. After several attempts, a reading was produced at .08%. She then became belligerent and more aggressive and used profane language towards the officer.

She resisted arrest and at one point, kicked the officer, causing him great pain. During booking at the lake county jail, she continued to refuse directions and verbally abused the detention officers.

Justin Acree Keeble, 28, of St. Ignatius, pleaded not guilty to felonies aggravated assault, criminal endangerment and misdemeanor criminal destruction of or tampering with a communication device.

An omnibus hearing is set for Thursday, May 6 at 9 a.m.

According to court records, the charges stem from a March 18 incident when a St. Ignatius Police Officer was notified of a 911 hang up call from a cell phone. When the officer called the number, he could hear a female screaming and then the phone went dead, so he responded to the home.

Upon arrival, the officer heard a male yell, "Look what you did now."

Keeble opened the door and told the officer he was arguing with the woman and was just leaving. The officer noticed when Keeble spoke, he could smell the odor of an alcoholic beverage and also that a large abrasion was on the woman's head.

He then detained Keeble in his patrol car and went into the home to speak with the woman. She had a hard time talking and appeared to be lethargic. She complained of a pain in her neck and head. She told the officer that Keeble came home drunk a few hours earlier and was playing the stereo very loud. She asked him to turn it down and he then pushed her down on the bed, then threw her to the floor. He then began to strangle her around her neck and that's when she tried to call 911.

Michael Joseph Shields, 51, of Pablo, had his sentence for felony DUI revoked and was sentenced to the Montana State Prison for four years.

Shields violated his parole by moving his place of residence without approval, failure to report to his probation officer, consuming alcohol and failure to obtain a chemical dependency evaluation or counseling.

According to court records, the DUI charge stems from a Sept. 7, 2007 incident when a Highway Patrol Officer observed a vehicle drive into the grass next to the southbound lane and almost hit a light pole near Hillcrest Drive in Polson. 

The officer was unable to stop the vehicle because he was transporting a prisoner. However, he radioed two Polson Police Officers, requesting that they stop the vehicle.

Once stopped, the officer asked Shields to repeat his date of birth several times because he could not understand him. He refused all sobriety testing and was taken to the jail for further processing.

At the detention center, Shields scored six out of six possible clues of impairment on the HGN test. He refused all other testing and a check on his driving history showed he had at least four prior DUI convictions.

 

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