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Protest occurs in relation to McDonald Lake homicide

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POLSON – Demonstrators  arrived at the Lake County Courthouse on Monday morning to protest a decision to release individuals associated with the Cassandra Harris case.

“It’s not ok,” said Amy Castlio, one of the protest organizers. She continued to say: “There are so many violent offenders that are being released back into our society, over and over again, to keep doing more heinous crimes. Our judge is not doing anything to stop it. He just lets them out, slaps them on the wrist, and they go about their business.”

She is concerned about the victim’s family. 

“There is a family who has lost their little girl,” Castlio said. “She will never come home to her little boy and it could have been stopped. It could have been prevented.”

The protest lasted for about an hour and a half. About 40 protesters peacefully made signs, sat on the lawn, and held up signs. “Justice for Cassandra” was the overall message. Several people passing by honked their car horns in support. 

Four people were charged after Harris died from injuries she sustained at McDonald Lake during the morning of Saturday, June 23. 

Harris, 24, of Ronan was initially found unconscious and badly injured near the lake. She was taken to the intensive care unit at Kalispell Regional Medical Center. On Monday, June 25, the Harris family confirmed that she died from her injuries. 

Lake County Sheriff Don Bell said leads in the investigation were being followed and the victim was being sent to the Montana State Crime Lab for an autopsy. 

Lake County Undersheriff Ben Woods stated that the woman’s identity was initially unknown and the circumstances of her injuries were also unknown. After an initial investigation, it was suspected that the incident involved a vehicle based on the location of the injuries Harris sustained. 

Lake County Sheriff’s Office detectives worked with the Montana Highway Patrol and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Police for 36 hours to locate and apprehend the suspects believed to be responsible.

In connection to the incident, Julia Vaile of Browning was charged with negligent homicide. She was later released after a June 25 court hearing in Lake County Justice Court. 

Gale Hendrickx, 19, of Pablo, was charged with negligent homicide and also released after a court hearing. 

Donnovan Sherwood, 18, of Arlee, was charged with obstruction of justice and remains in custody at the Lake County Jail. 

Joseph Parizeau Jr., 22, of Ronan, was arrested in connection with the incident and charged with negligent homicide. He is being held in the Lake County Jail. 

Parizeau is no stranger to Lake County officials. At District Court in Polson on Oct. 25, 2017, Parizeau entered pleas of not guilty to assault with a weapon and aggravated assault for allegedly breaking into a residence in Polson on Feb. 5, 2017 and assaulting a man with a large stick. 

In a separate case, Parizeau pleaded not guilty to two counts of assault with a weapon and two counts of intimidation. In that matter, Parizeau allegedly pointed an AR-15 assault rifle at two men near the intersection of Terrace Lake Road and Timberlane Road on Oct. 10, 2017.

The February home invasion case was dismissed without prejudice in April when the alleged victim could not be located. The second case involving the AR-15 was also dismissed in April when a picture used by law enforcement to help the alleged victims identify Parizeau as the perpetrator could not be located. If the missing evidence materializes, charges could be re-filed.


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