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Lake County District Court news for Jan. 7, 2010

Judge C.B. McNeil dealt with the following cases on Wednesday, Dec. 30:

Michael Gilbert Turpin, 48, of Ronan pleaded not guilty to felony driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs - fourth or subsequent offense, misdemeanor proof of compliance - second or subsequent offense, and misdemeanor driving while license suspended or revoked. An omnibus hearing was held on Oct. 28. and a jury trial is set for Monday, March 15 at 9 a.m.

According to court records, Turpin was stopped by Montana Highway Patrol Troopers Aug. 21 on Highway 93 near Pablo after the troopers observed the car he was driving nearly hit the guardrail, he drove slowly and crossed the fog line and center line several times. The troopers noted that Turpin was unsteady on his feet, had trouble walking and slurred his speech. Several beer cans were observed on the floorboard of the vehicle, too. The troopers reported that Turpin admitted he had been drinking.

A call to emergency dispatchers resulted in a records check that Turpin had five prior DUI convictions. Turpin refused to do sobriety tests or a breath test, and he was placed under arrest. He also refused to perform any sobriety tests at the Lake County Jail.

Tiffany Cutfinger, 20 of Pablo, pleaded not guilty to felonies deceptive practices, a common scheme, and theft of identity.

An omnibus hearing is set for Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 9 a.m.

According to court records, the charges stem from a May 18 incident when Ronan Police Officers received a theft report from an employee of St. Char-Ro in Ronan of several credit cards taken from the back room of the store.

A list of transactions was provided to the officer after the cards were missing. On May 15, $199.96 worth of goods was purchased from Target in Missoula. The next day, a man and a woman attempted to purchase goods with seven of the cards, all were declined. The store security system provided pictures of the man and woman, and the woman was identified as Cutfinger.

The employee of St. Char-Ro informed the officer that Cutfinger was in the shop the day the cards were missing.

Other transactions were made to purchase goods in four different stores in Polson and Missoula totaling $1,661.62. One transaction was voided in the amount of $878.75 because the cashier asked to see an ID.


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

Becci Lynn Snowden, 39, of Missoula pleaded not guilty to felony assault on a peace officer and misdemeanor disorderly conduct. An omnibus hearing is set for Thursday, Jan. 28 at 9 a.m.

According to court records, the charges stem from a Nov. 22 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, got out and advised the officer that her window did not roll down. She told the officer that she was lost and was trying to go to Missoula, even though she was northbound on Hwy. 93. The officer then requested Snowden to move her vehicle out of the roadway. She complied on the second request.

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 declined. The officer explained that if she blew under the legal limit, she would still not be allowed to drive home as he believed her to be impaired.

She then 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 and during booking at the lake county jail, she continued to refuse directions and abused the detention officers verbally.

Jonas Buckman, 27, of Polson, pleaded not guilty to felonies negligent vehicular assault and accidents involving death or personal injuries. An omnibus hearing is set for Thursday, Jan. 14 at 9 a.m.

According to court records, the charges stem from a Nov. 25 incident when officers were dispatched to a vehicle versus bicycle accident near turtle lake road in Polson. When they arrived, a 16-year-old girl was discovered to have serous injuries to her lower body and witnesses at the scene said she was hit by a truck that left the scene. One witness showed officers where he had seen the truck drive to a house close by.

The officers observed a dodge pickup with damage to the driver’s side, and blood on the driver side tire. The male who was contacted inside the residence said the Dodge was owned by his son. The officers then observed Buckman stumbling toward the door and was placed under arrest. The officers could smell the odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath, that he slurred his words while speaking, and was unsteady on his feet. Buckman admitted to drinking whiskey.
The victim was transferred to Missoula due the extent of her injuries, lacerations on her legs and broken bones. A blood sample was taken from Buckman.
Benjamin Carey Jim Littleleaf, 21, of Polson, pleaded not guilty to felony theft.
An omnibus hearing is set for Thursday, Jan. 21 at 9 a.m. 
The charge stems from a Dec. 11 incident when a call was made from a woman who stated that her 2002 Dodge Caravan was stolen from outside of her home located in the Woodcock Home sites in Ronan. She had left her van running while she went inside the home. When she came back outside, the van was gone.
An eyewitness neighbor said it was taken by male in is twenties.
Just two hours later, a Polson police officer located the van in Polson.
Littleleaf was the driver and sole occupant. He was placed under arrest and during an interview, said he was being picked up by a male named Nicholas, but later admitted to stealing the vehicle himself.

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