Valley Journal
Valley Journal

Latest Headlines

Current Events

What's New?

Send us your news items.

NOTE: All submissions are subject to our Submission Guidelines.

Announcement Forms

Use these forms to send us announcements.

Birth Announcement
Engagement Announcement
Wedding Announcement

Lake County District Court news for Mar. 18, 2010

Judge Deborah K. Christopher dealt with the following cases on Thursday, March 11, 2010:

Savanna Lynae Nelson, 23, of Lolo, was found guilty of felony driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and was committed to the Department of Corrections for placement in an appropriate correctional program for 13 months and was recommended to obtain a mental health evaluation before entering the WATCH program.

According to court records, the charge stems from a Jan. 17 incident near mile marker 22 on U.S. Highway 93 when a Montana Highway Patrol Trooper noticed an oncoming passenger vehicle weaving in and out of traffic at a high rate of speed. The trooper cited a 96 mph radar reading. The trooper activated his lights and caught up to the car, but when the vehicle did not stop he turned on his siren. The vehicle took approximately two miles to stop and during this time, weaved from the fog line to the center line and crossed the center line at least one time.

Once the vehicle stopped, the trooper approached the driver, identified as Nelson, and while speaking with her, he glance at the man in the passenger front seat that indicated to the trooper that Nelson had been drinking by pointed to her and mouthed, “She is wasted.”

The trooper could smell a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from Nelson. She produced a breath sample that registered a .243% BAC. She was then placed under arrest and taken to jail for further processing.

During booking, Nelson told the trooper that she had not been driving and even after the trooper told her that the stop was recorded on video, she insisted that the male passenger had been the driver. Nelson refused all sobriety tests. Her driving history indicated that she has three prior DUI convictions.

Stephen D. Leishner, 23, of American Falls, Idaho, was found guilty of felonies criminal possession with intent to distribute and tampering with evidence. 

Sentencing is set for Thursday, April 21 at 9 a.m.

According to court records, the charges stem from a Jan. 19 incident at 1:30 p.m. when a Northwest Drug Taskforce Agent was contacted by an officer about two males selling methamphetamine in the Lake County area. A confidential informant described one male as “Stevie” as being 5’7” tall, bald or shaved head, a goatee and tattooed writing down each forearm. This description matched that of Stephen Leischner. The informant told the agent that he had a large amount of meth, a handgun, along with cash and marijuana and that the males where going to sell or trade the meth for pistols or shotguns in Lake County.

The informant placed a call to Stevie and his friend, Dustin Morgan, answered the phone and stated that they were in Boulder, Mont. but they would come to Lake County to sell some meth to the informant. 

On Jan. 20, the agent was stationed in Arlee with a tribal police captain. The informant was to meet the two males in about 30 minutes. They observed the males in a green Cadillac. They followed in three cars behind it.  Two other officers were stationed in Ravalli and waited as the Cadillac was northbound on U.S. Highway 93, they fell in behind it as one officer fell back. 

All three law enforcement vehicles activated their emergency lights. The Cadillac then accelerated to high speeds towards Ravalli Hill. It proceeded northbound and took a right turn into St. Ignatius. At times, the Cadillac’s speed was more than 100 mph. It continued on Old Highway 93, before again reentering Highway 93, south towards Ravalli and turned around in Arlee and then headed north. Near mile marker 21, a deputy observed the passenger throwing things out of the vehicle window, which were later recovered.

The chase went west on Highway 200, then north on Highway 212 where officers were waiting with spike strips. The chase ended in Charlo, near Olsen road and Highway 212, where the two men exited the car and began running east and were stopped by law enforcement.

In the vehicle, the agent observed white material that appeared to be crystal methamphetamine on the front seat, floorboards, window seals and right side door panel, a glass pipe, and a leafy substance that appeared to be marijuana on the front passenger seat. A scale was also recovered in Ravalli.

After a warrant was issued, a search of the vehicle recovered a black computer bag and a red cooler, a large quantity of unused plastic bags hidden in socks, a glass pipe with meth residue, a black lock-box containing another black box with scattered pieces of meth shards inside, two computers, cell phones and a number of 9MM shells. 

 

Judge C.B. McNeil dealt with the following cases on Wednesday, March 10, 2010:

Brian K. Mitchell, 21, of St. Ignatius, received a deferred sentence of three years for felony custodian interference, will serve 45 days in jail, must complete a chemical dependency evaluation and was fined $860.

According to court records, the charges stem from an Oct. 3, 2007 incident when a Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle with Mitchell inside along with two other occupants. One of the occupants was reported as a runaway.

On Oct. 5, the deputy was responding to a reoccurring runaway reported. The deputy went to a home in St. Ignatius where Mitchell had been known to stay. Mitchell was found in the basement and a minor was found under the bed.

Justin Matthew Wade Lightley, 21, of Spokane Valley, Wash., pleaded not guilty to felonies criminal possession of dangerous drugs, two counts, and criminal possession with intent to distribute.

According to court records, agents of the Drug Task Force were searching an apartment in Polson for evidence related to the sale and possession of dangerous drugs.

Lightley was the only person in the apartment and items found were two scales, 300 pills that appeared to be ecstasy, plastic bags and marijuana. During booking at the jail, Lightley admitted to having a scale with cocaine on it and that he brought a quarter pound of marijuana from Washington to sell.

Dale Leroy Shaw, 52, of Ronan, had his sentence of felonies burglary and robbery and misdemeanor attempted theft revoked and was committed to the DOC for 15 years with 10 years suspended and was recommended for connections corrections facility followed by a pre-release program.

Shaw had his sentence revoked because he failed to report to his probation officer and tested positive for marijuana and methamphetamine.

Spencer Glenn Price, 43, of East Valley Way, Wash., had his sentence of felony criminal distribution of dangerous drugs revoked and was committed to the DOC for 15 years with 10 years suspended. Price was recommended for connections corrections facility followed by a pre-release program.

Price had his sentence revoked because he tested positive for methamphetamine, opiates and marijuana and absconded from supervision.

Jude R. Ellsworth, 21, of Pablo, had his sentence for felony burglary revoked and was committed to the DOC for 10 years with five years suspended and also had his sentence for felony criminal mischief revoked and was committed to the DOC for 10 years with five years suspended. Sentencing is to run concurrently. Ellsworth had his sentence revoked because he lied to his probation officer about money received, consumed alcohol and failed to pay fines.

Francine Faye VanMaanen, 57, of Ronan, pleaded not guilty to felony driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs - fourth or subsequent offense.

An omnibus hearing is set for Wednesday, April 7 at 9 a.m.

According to court records, the charge stems from a Feb. 7 early morning incident when a Flathead Tribal Police Officer was patrolling on U.S. Highway 93 near Pablo when he noticed a vehicle pull out in front of him from Old Highway 93. The vehicle was cited going 80 mph in a 65 mph zone and was weaving within its lane of traffic, crossing the fog line and center line.

The driver, identified as VanMaanen, was pulled over and while speaking with VanMaanan, the officer noticed a strong odor of alcohol coming from her breath as well as slow and slurred speech. VanMaanan refused to provide a breath sample and to perform any field sobriety testing.

During booking at the jail, she further refused any tests even though she was warned by her probation officer that she was required to provide a breath sample under her probationary rules. VanMaanan’s driving recorded showed that she has at least three prior DUI convictions.
 
Ryan Anthony Charlo, 25, of Pablo, pleaded not guilty to felonies assault with a weapon and criminal endangerment. A plea agreement may have been reached and a change of plea hearing is set for Wednesday, March 17 at 9 a.m.
 
According to court records, the charges stem from a Feb. 20 incident when several Lake County Sheriff’s Deputies were called to the Northwoods Trailer Park in Pablo on a possible gun shot fired and altercation report. Three males were interviewed by law enforcement, and stated that Charlo had gotten into an argument with his brother and that during the argument Charlo had pointed a gun at his brother three times and fired the gun in the air once.
 
The brother stated that he they began arguing at his home and when they got into the car to go to the trailer park, Charlo pointed a gun at him, punched him, and that’s when he fired the gun in the air.
 
Joshua Christopher Fisher, 21, of Ronan, pleaded guilty to felony tampering with witnesses. He was found guilty and sentencing is set for Wednesday, April 14 at 9 a.m.
According to court records, the charge stems from a Nov. 21, 2009 incident when a Flathead Tribal Police Officer was dispatched to St. Luke’s hospital to speak with a woman who claimed that her former boyfriend, Fisher, had gotten mad when they were speaking at his home. He broke her phone when she tried to call for help and when she began to yell for help, told her that nobody was going to hear her.
 
Gregory Gonstad, 26, of Clinton, Mont., pleaded not guilty to felony driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, fourth or subsequent offense.
 
An omnibus hearing is set for Wednesday, April 14 at 9 a.m.
 
According to court records, the charge stems from a Feb. 6 incident when Lake County Sheriff’s Deputies were called to a one-vehicle rollover crash on Skyline Drive in Polson. The deputy found the vehicle in the ditch and the driver, Gonstad, was trapped inside. Despite being told to remain in the vehicle until medical help arrived, Gonstad crawled out of a window and deputies observed that he was unsteady on his feet, his eyes were bloodshot and glassy and the he smelled of alcohol.
 
Gonstad told officers he had been drinking “a lot.” and said “I know I shouldn’t have done that.” When officers asked what he was referring to, he said, “driving when I was drunk.”
He admitted to driving from Clinton and that he’d been drinking for the past three days. He refused all sobriety testing or to provide a breath sample. A driving history check showed that Gonstad had four prior DUI convictions. 
 

60°
Lo 45°
Forecast

Sponsored by: