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Mother and son sentenced for involvement in Blackweasel death

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POLSON — A mother from St. Ignatius and her adult son were sentenced, one right after the other, at District Court in Polson on May 25 for their involvement in the death of 18-year-old Saul Blackweasel last January.

Rope Kinkade Ardis, 20, was sentenced to the Montana State Prison for eight years with none of that time suspended on one count of vehicular homicide while under the influence. His mother, Roberta Virginia Asencio, 40, had the imposition of sentencing deferred for three years and was ordered to serve 30 days in jail. She learned her fate after her son was already led out of the court room in handcuffs to start serving his time. The sentences were handed down by Judge James Manley. It was Judge Manley’s last day serving the 20th Judicial District.

The charges stem from a traffic accident on Back Road south of Polson Jan. 23, 2021. Lake County emergency services were paged out to a report of a one vehicle rollover that day. At the scene, Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Aaron Day observed that a 2006 Ford Mustang, registered to Ardis, had left the roadway and rolled. Ardis was no longer at the scene, but his mother, Roberta Asencio, was. One passenger was being treated by an ambulance crew. Another passenger, Saul Blackweasel, died at the scene. Asencio allegedly claimed that she did not know where Ardis was. A wallet and identification card belonging to Ardis was found near the wrecked Mustang, along with one shoe. It turned out that another person had picked up Ardis at the crash site and transported him to a relative’s house, then later to St. Luke Hospital in Ronan. While being questioned by law enforcement at the hospital, Ardis admitted to consuming alcohol, but claimed to not know who was driving. He was also in possession of a shoe that matched the one left at the crash site. Phone records show that Ardis had called relatives right after the crash, but did not call 911 to report the crash or seek aid for Blackweasel. Forensic testing showed Ardis’s DNA on the deployed airbag of the Mustang’s steering wheel. It’s the belief of Lake County Attorney Steve Eschenbacher that Roberta Asencio arranged to have her son picked up at the crash site and taken away.

Saul Blackweasel’s mother, Ashley Gervais, testified at the sentencing. She asked Ardis how he could have just left his best friend laying in a ditch. “He loved you!” she said repeatedly. She also spoke of how close the two friends were. She spoke about how they’ve been friends since the age of seven. Gervais held back tears as she spoke of the damage to her son’s body and how that impacted her ability to have an open casket at his funeral services. Other family members took the stand. One question they shared was what happened to Saul Blackweasel’s cell phone, as its whereabouts are unknown.

It was learned through the required pre-sentence investigation that Ardis had multiple DUI convictions leading up to the night of Blackweasel’s death.

In addition to the eight-year prison term, Judge Manley ordered Ardis pay restitution in the amount of $21,962.70.

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