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Lake County District Court news for May 20, 2010

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Judge C.B. McNeil dealt with the following cases on May 12, 2010:

LaVonda Marie Curley, 36, Ronan, had a previously suspended sentence for felony forgery revoked and was sentenced to three years at the state DOC. This is to run concurrently with the previously revoked sentence for felony issuing a bad check. She was also recommended for placement at the Elkhorn Treatment Center followed by pre-release and ISP. 

Her sentence was revoked due to multiple violations to her probation. 

Cheryl Marie Matt, 40, St. Ignatius, admitted to felony assault on a police officer and was found guilty. Sentencing is set for June 2 at 9 a.m.

According to court records, the charge stems from a March 9 incident when authorities responded to a vehicle assist in St. Ignatius. 

Knowing that officers were running a check for warrants against her, Matt pulled out a knife and swung it at one of the officers. Officers managed to take the knife after a short struggle. 

During the process of handcuffing, an officer was kneed and kicked in the groin. 

Duane Dennis Matt, 49, Dixon, admitted to felony driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and was found guilty. Sentencing is scheduled for June 23 at 9 a.m.

According to court records, the charge stems from a Dec. 17 incident when a Montana Highway Patrol Trooper observed expiring registration tabs dated of April 2006, on a vehicle on U.S. Hwy 93 near mile marker 33. 

The trooper observed four individuals in the vehicle, and that furtive movements in the front and right-sided passengers occurred.

After stopping the vehicle, he noted that one of the passengers in the rear seat appeared to be very nervous. He also noticed an open half-full beer can on the floor between the passenger’s feet and an open 12-pack of beer between the rear passengers that appeared to have some cans missing from it.

The driver identified himself under a false name and he said he had no ID on him, and could not provide proof of registration and he told the officer that he bought the vehicle from his sister for $200. Court records indicated that the license plate was registered to a vehicle that did not match the description of the vehicle the trooper had pulled over.

The driver, later identified as Matt, when speaking to the trooper, had an odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his breath. His eyes were bloodshot and glassy, and his speech was slurred to the point of being hard to understand. 

The result of a breath test indicated a BAC significantly above .08%. He was placed under arrest as the false name he’d given the officer gave a history that he’d had seven prior DUI convictions.

Matt then identified himself to the trooper and said he was not supposed to be driving and that he was on parole. Court records indicated that Matt’s driver’s license was revoked and that he had seven previous DUI convictions. During booking at the jail, he gave a breath sample resulting in a BAC of .168%

Cote Wheeler, 21, Ronan was sentenced for four separate cases and all where ruled to run concurrently. 

In the first case, Wheeler received a deferred sentence of three years for burglary

According to court records, on Dec. 13, the owner of a home residence located on West Post Creek Road called Lake County Dispatch about a burglary. The homeowners said they left their home approximately 10 a.m. and returned 4:30 p.m. to find that someone had entered their house through the garage.

They were missing three guns, including a Remington 1100 shotgun, a camera, jewelry and cash. Tire tracks were found in the driveway, with fingerprints on an owner’s manual from inside the home.

The tread from the tracks were similar to the ones on Wheeler’s vehicle, who was identified as a suspect. During an interview with Wheeler on Jan. 16, he admitted to breaking into the residence with a friend.

The shotgun, having a serial number within the range of numbers supplied by Remington based on the date of the gun, was located in a Kalispell pawn shop. 

In the second case he received a deferred sentence for three years for burglary.

According to court records, on Nov. 13, 2008 a Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy was responding to a burglar alarm at Wilson Family Foods in Arlee. A Tribal Officer was at the store and noted that the back door was open and an 18-pack of beer was in the alley behind the store.

Both the officer and deputy noticed that the break-in entrance was from the ceiling into the office where an addition was under construction. According to in interview by a deputy with Wheeler, he stated that a group broke in from the ceiling of the addition and took three cases of beer. After the alarm had set off, they panicked and exited through the back door. One case of beer was dropped, but two other cases were taken.

In the third case he received another deferred sentence for three years for burglary.

According to court records, the charges stem from a Dec. 2, 2008 incident when a Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy was advised that a Ronan Police Chief recovered stolen property. The deputy met the chief at his home in Ronan and showed him a lock box that was brought to his home that had been forced open. It was found near the overpass in Pablo. There two letters addressed to a person who confirmed that the box had been stolen from his home. He said there was $800 in the box and another $500 had been taken from his home the same time. The theft had occurred several days prior, but he had not reported it to police. He also said he was missing a revolver.

On Jan. 16, 2009, a deputy interviewed Wheeler who admitted to burglarizing the home. He admitted to taking $700 from the box and $600 from another location inside the house, and the revolver.

Finally, Wheeler was committed to DOC for 10 years with eight suspended for the burglary charge in his fourth case. 

According to court records, the charges stemmed from an incident occurring on Nov. 19, 2008 at Pigasus Bar in Arlee where Lake County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched for a burglary reported by the owners of the bar. The owners stated that sometime during the previous night, someone entered the bar through a window and took several bottles of liquor worth approximately $800, two knives and $500 in cash.

Later on that evening, a person who saw a suspicious driver in a green Dodge pickup the evening of the burglary called dispatch. On Nov. 22, an anonymous tip was called in that said Wheeler was the person who burglarized the Pigasus, who was confirmed as the owner of a green 2002 dodge pickup.

According to an interview by Sheriff’s Deputy with Wheeler on Jan. 16, he admitted to burglarizing the Pigasus Bar. Wheeler stated that Wheeler entered the building while others kept watch and took the knives, 32 bottles of alcohol and cash, all were carried to the truck and they later went to a party in Missoula.

Kevin McPherson, 45, St. Ignatius appeared in court to enter his plea on two DUI cases. 

In the first case, he admitted to felony driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and misdemeanor failure to carry proof of liability insurance. He was found guilty and sentencing is set for June 16 at 9 a.m.

According to court records, these charges stem from a Sept. 14 incident when a Highway Patrol trooper responded to a one-vehicle crash on Dublin Gulch Road. A crushed alcoholic bottle was found on the driver’s floorboard along with two empty alcohol containers. The vehicle was eastbound when it drove off the south side of the road, struck two mailboxes, climbed an incline and then rolled, ending up facing southeast. 

The driver of the vehicle, McPherson, was transported to St. Luke’s Medical Center in Ronan and questioned by the trooper. He admitted to having an altercation at Tiny’s Tavern in Charlo and said another car had been coming after him. He also said he “messed up.”

While speaking with McPherson, the trooper noticed a slow, slurred manner of speech, that his eyes were red and glossy and that there was an odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his breath. 

McPherson then admitted to drinking a little bit, that no one was coming after him and that he slipped into the ditch.

McPherson scored six out of six possible indicators of impairment on the HGN test. He refused a blood and a breath sample.

McPherson was released from the hospital and taken to jail for further processing where a marijuana pipe with residue was found. He refused a field sobriety test, stating that his knee was injured. Court records indicated that McPherson has at least three prior DUI convictions. 

In his second case, McPherson admitted to felony driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and misdemeanors driving while license is suspended and failure to carry proof of liability insurance. He was found guilty and sentencing is set for July 20.

According to court records, these charges stem from a Jan. 21 incident when McPherson was stopped by a Tribal Police Officer in Ravalli. 

The officer noticed a strong smell of alcohol coming from McPherson and noticed his speech was slurred and slow and he staggered when he walked.

Two HGN tests and multiple field sobriety tests all determined McPherson was under the influence of alcohol.

Ethan Lyn Maughan, Ronan, pleaded not guilty to felony theft and misdemeanor obscuring identity of machine. An omnibus hearing is scheduled for June 16 at 9 a.m.

According to court records, the charges stem from a May 13, 2008 incident when a Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy responded to a report of a stolen ATV. The victim told the deputy that he returned from being out of town for a long period of time the night before and noticed it was missing. The ATV’s VIN number was taken and entered as stolen. 

On Nov. 7, 2009, Maughan was pulled over in a truck and the ATV in the back of his truck had the VIN number scratched off. The ATV was seized and sent to a crime lab to see if the VIN could be recovered. 

On Feb. 22, 2010, the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office received an anonymous tip regarding the ATV. The caller stated that Maughan stole the ATV and named the victim. 

In an interview, Maughan admitted to stealing the ATV and driving it on his family’s land for the last two years. 


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