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Polson man pleads guilty to child endangerment

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A Polson man admitted to charges of driving impaired when he rolled his vehicle with a child inside. Cory Robert Wetherelt, 22, entered a plea of guilty at District Court in Polson on Aug. 30 to felony criminal child endangerment.

The plea was entered as part of a plea agreement that comes with a joint recommendation of sentencing being deferred for three years, and either serve 15 days in jail, or complete a chemical dependency evaluation.

According to court records, on April 5, Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Julian Gallegos responded to a report of a single vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 93 near mile marker 68. One motorist/witness indicated that the vehicle in front of him came around the corner traveling southbound, and it drifted off the side of the road, then appeared to over-correct before rolling and landing up against a tree. Wetherelt told Trooper Gallegos that he had to brake suddenly because of the vehicle in front of him. The witness told the trooper that there was no vehicle in front of Wetherelt’s. 

Trooper Gallegos noticed alcoholic beverages beside Wetherfelt’s vehicle. The trooper could also smell the odor of alcohol coming from Wetherelt. Wetherelt initially denied having consumed alcohol prior to the crash, and later admitted that he had consumed two “jack and cokes” earlier that day. Results of a blood draw were pending as of the arraignment hearing. Wetherelt’s sole passenger was a one-year-old child.

Retired Judge James Manley substituted for Judge Molly Owen. He set sentencing for Oct. 18. Wetherelt remains at liberty.

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