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Clancy Man Denies Charges in Fatal Crash
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) - A 22-year-old Clancy man has pleaded not guilty to felony vehicular homicide for a fatal crash on Interstate 15 near Montana City.

The Montana Standard reports Cal Erickson Mullen appeared in District Court in Boulder Wednesday, where he also denied a felony and two misdemeanor counts of negligent vehicular assault.

Prosecutors allege Mullen had a blood-alcohol level of 0.265 early on June 14 when he crashed his pickup truck. Court records say he left the truck on the highway and didn't warn oncoming vehicles or report the accident.

A vehicle driven by 42-year-old Jason West struck the wrecked pickup. The collision killed 38-year-old Wyman Hewitt and caused severe injuries to 36-year-old Anne Boster, both passengers in West's vehicle.

West also faces three counts of criminal endangerment after investigators determined he could have avoided the crash.

(Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Government Makes Buy-Back Offers On Indian lands
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The U.S. government has offered to buy land parcels in Arizona and Montana from 4,300 American Indians who have fractional ownership interests and give the land back to the tribes.

The Interior Department said Thursday it made offers totaling $19.2 million to 2,500 individual owners of land on Montana's Northern Cheyenne reservation and $77.6 million to 1,836 individual owners of parcels on Arizona's Gila River reservation.

The voluntary program is part of a $3.4 billion settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed by Elouise Cobell of Browning, Montana. The lawsuit claimed Interior Department officials mismanaged trust money held by the government for hundreds of thousands of Indian landowners.

The program aims to consolidate as many parcels as possible after an 1887 law split tribal lands into individual allotments that were inherited by multiple heirs.
Judge Asked to Toss Statements in Oil-Patch Murder
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - A judge will decide if statements made to FBI agents by a Colorado man accused of murder in Montana's oil patch should be suppressed because the defendant is mentally disabled.

District Judge Richard Simonton has scheduled an Oct. 1 hearing in Sidney in the case of 25-year-old Michael Spell of Parachute, Colorado.

Spell is accused of killing 43-year-old Sherry Arnold during an attempted abduction as the high school teacher and mother of two was jogging in Sidney in January 2012. Her body was found more than two months later in North Dakota.

Richland County prosecutors dropped their pursuit of the death penalty for Spell after experts testified he has a mild mental disability.

Accomplice Lester Van Waters Jr. has pleaded guilty to deliberate homicide by accountability in a deal with prosecutors.

(Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Judge to Consider Key Part of Sex-Abuse Settlement
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena is asking a bankruptcy judge to approve a key piece of a proposed settlement with hundreds of people who say they were sexually abused by clergy.

The diocese filed for bankruptcy protection in January as part of an agreement with 362 people abused as children from the 1940s to the 1970s. The diocese's insurers filed separate lawsuits over which claims they are obligated to cover.

The diocese is asking U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Terry Myers to approve a deal that would allow the insurers to buy back their policies for $10.9 million and protect them from future claims.

That money would fund the bulk of the settlement with the abuse victims.

A hearing has been set for Oct. 22 at the federal courthouse in Butte.

(Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Man Gets 10 Years' Probation for Fatal Crash
COLUMBUS, Mont. (AP) - A 44-year-old Columbus man has been given a 10-year probationary sentence for a drunken driving crash that killed the passenger on his motorcycle.

The Stillwater County News reports District Judge Blair Jones sentenced John Bryce Newkirk on Aug. 21 for vehicular homicide while under the influence.

Prosecutors say Newkirk's blood-alcohol level was 0.177 at the time of a June 9, 2013, crash on Highway 10 east of Columbus. His passenger, 48-year-old Natalie LeBlanc, died four days later at a Billings hospital. Court records say neither were wearing helmets.

Jones also sentenced Newkirk to perform 25 hours of community service and fined him $1,585.

(Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
More Charges in Chase That Included Deputy's Death
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) - A Great Falls man who is charged with deliberate homicide in the death of a Cascade County sheriff's deputy faces charges that he tried to assault two other officers and endangered two motorists during an Aug. 14 chase.

County Attorney John Parker told the Great Falls Tribune that felony charges of assault with a weapon, assault on a peace officer and two counts of criminal endangerment were filed against 40-year-old Adam Sanchez Jr. He was served with the warrant Thursday at the Chouteau County jail in Fort Benton, where he is being held on $5 million bond in the death of Deputy Joe Dunn.

Prosecutors allege Sanchez tried to hit a Great Falls police officer with his car while the officer laid stop sticks and assaulted another officer as he was being arrested.

(Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Officers Find Sheriff Asleep on Sidewalk
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Two police officers reported finding the Roosevelt County sheriff asleep on a sidewalk in Wolf Point earlier this month.

A police report obtained by The Billings Gazette indicates Officer Joey Olson spotted a man lying on the sidewalk at about 3:30 a.m. on Aug. 14, and suspected he was "intoxicated and sleeping."

The report says the officers identified the man as Sheriff Freedom Crawford and took him to his in-laws' house at his request.

Crawford wasn't cited. The Gazette says it's unclear if the county took any disciplinary action.

Crawford declined comment last week and was out of the office on Thursday morning.

Crawford was given a six-month suspended jail term after pleading guilty to assault for throwing a man through a bar window during a drunken fight in Lewistown in August 2011.

(Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
OSHA Reviewing Conflicting Accounts in Fatal Fall
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) - The area director for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says an employee at the Kalispell Walmart died in a fall from a movable staircase in a storeroom and not a ladder, as was initially reported.

Jeff Funke tells the Missoulian the investigation is also looking into the time it took an ambulance crew to respond to the store. OSHA regulations require a workplace to "ensure the ready availability of medical personnel" or have employees trained to render first aid.

Funke says OSHA is sorting out witness statements and the investigation may take four to six months.

The man's name has not been released.

UPDATE: VICTIM IDENTIFIED

Flathead County Sheriff and Coroner Chuck Curry said 57-year-old Larry Wurtz died at the Kalispell hospital four days after he fell.

(Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Whitefish Woman Pleads Guilty to Stabbing Husband
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) - A Whitefish woman who stabbed her husband in the chest during an argument, causing fatal injuries, has pleaded guilty to negligent homicide.

AnnMari Newton entered her plea Wednesday before District Judge Ted Lympus in Kalispell. Sentencing is set for Oct. 30.

Newton was arrested in November and charged with assault with a weapon for injuries suffered by her husband, Chad Newton, on Nov. 25.

His family removed him from life support on Dec. 28 after a judge ruled awarded his father the authority to make medical decisions. He died the next day.

UPDATE: PROSECUTERS RECOMMEND SENTENCE

Deputy Flathead County Attorney Travis Ahner said Thursday that prosecutors will recommend she be sentenced to 20 years with the Department of Corrections with 15 suspended. The department would determine her placement. An alternative charge of mitigated deliberate homicide will be dismissed.

(Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Alert Issued For 14-Year-Old Believed Kidnapped
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Montana Department of Justice officials have issued an Amber alert for a 14-year-old girl they believe was kidnapped near Lame Deer.

State officials say Mariah Eileen Akeen was in the passenger seat of a pickup truck without license plates that was stopped at 2 a.m. Wednesday.

Officers were arresting the driver when another passenger, 19-year-old Zachary Whiteman, jumped into the driver's seat and left with Akeen still inside.

Officials say Whiteman may have driven to the Ashland area.

Akeen is described as a 5-foot-4 Native American with black hair and eyes and weighing 146 pounds. Whiteman is 6 feet, 4 inches and weighs 260 pounds.

They were last seen in a tan 2004 Ford F150 pickup truck.

UPDATE: GIRL FOUND

A 14-year-old Lame Deer girl who was the subject of an Amber Alert on Wednesday, has been recovered and is safe.

Northern Cheyenne law enforcement asked the state Department of Justice to cancel the alert at 3 a.m. Thursday.

Officials were searching for Mariah Eileen Akeen, believing she had been kidnapped.

State officials said Akeen was in the passenger seat of a pickup truck without license plates that was stopped at 2 a.m. Wednesday. Officers were arresting the driver when another passenger, 19-year-old Zachary Whiteman, jumped into the driver's seat and left with Akeen still inside.

Tribal law enforcement didn't release any information about where Akeen was found.

Update: Tribal law enforcement declined to release any information about where Akeen was found. Officials referred questions to Bureau of Indian Affairs spokeswoman Nedra Darling in Washington, D.C., who did not return a call for comment.

(Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Author, State Seek Ruling on Rape Case Records
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Attorneys for author Jon Krakauer and the Montana University System are asking a judge to decide whether the state should release documents on how the commissioner of higher education handled a rape case against the University of Montana quarterback.

Krakauer attorney Mike Meloy told District Judge Kathy Seeley Wednesday the documents are for a book Krakauer is writing about sexual assaults at the university.

Records released in a federal court case detailed the proceedings against a student, later identified as quarterback Jordan Johnson. Meloy says a university court found the student had raped another student and recommended expulsion.

Meloy says the accused student appealed to Commissioner Clayton Christianson, but the record ends there.

Johnson was not expelled.

Christianson attorney Viv Hammill says the state could lose federal funding if it releases records without a student's consent.

(Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Feds Provide $3 Million to Address Tribal Violence
FARGO, N.D. (AP) - Federal authorities are providing $3 million in grants to address violence against women in rural and tribal communities in the oil patch of North Dakota and Montana.

The money from the Office on Violence Against Women will be used to help provide services to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking.

The grants will be divided among the First Nations Women's Alliance and Three Affiliated Tribes in North Dakota, the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes in Montana, the North Dakota Council on Abused Women's Services, and the Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

Department of Justice officials also announced that the Fort Beck and Fort Berthold reservations will each receive three-year, $450,000 grants to pay for tribal prosecutors who will be cross-designated as special U.S. attorneys.

(Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Female Grizzly, 2 Cubs Relocated Again
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) - A family of grizzly bears that had eaten corn and carrots from a garden in the Creston area and was spotted walking through yards on several occasions has been captured and relocated to a remote area on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

The Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks says the 6-year-old female and two cubs were captured by tribal biologists earlier this year and moved to the east side of Hungry Horse Reservoir to keep them away from homes.

Biologists tracking the female's radio collar found that within several weeks the bears had swum across the reservoir and crossed over the Swan Mountains into the Flathead Valley. Over the past month, the bears had been traveling between Lake Blaine and Many Lakes east of Kalispell.

The bears were trapped on Aug. 22 and released the next day.

(Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Former Guardsman Pleads Guilty to Sex Crimes
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A former Montana Army National Guard soldier who fled the country to avoid trial has pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of children and bail jumping.

The Independent Record reports Jeffrey Lane Wenzel entered his plea Tuesday in District Court in Helena as part of an agreement that calls for him to be sentenced to eight years in prison. Sentencing is set for Oct. 23.

Prosecutors alleged Wenzel enticed a girl under the age of 16 to show him her breasts with the promise that he would buy her a car.

Wenzel was charged in June 2012. Shortly before his trial was to begin in January 2013 he fled the country. He was arrested in Spain in September 2013 after the owner of a bar where he had been working became suspicious of his ever-changing stories.

(Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Former Wall Street Journal Reporter Assaulted
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - Police in Missoula are searching for a man suspected of assaulting a former Wall Street Journal and Missoulian reporter, likely costing the 70-year-old man the sight in his left eye.

Les Gapay tells the Missoulian he was assaulted Sunday in the parking lot of a Walmart, where he was staying in his pickup for the night.

Gapay says as he was leaving the store he was approached by two intoxicated men, one of whom punched him in the chest. He says a third man hit him in the eye at least five times.

Gapay's eye surgeon told him his chance of seeing again is about 5 percent.

The first two men were arrested and face misdemeanor charges. Officers have a warrant to arrest 30-year-old Sean Marceau for felony aggravated assault.

(Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Judge Rejects Senate Leader's Conspiracy Claims
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A Helena judge has dismissed claims by the Montana Senate majority leader that the governor, a state senator and two commissioners of political practices were conspiring to drive him out of office.

District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock Tuesday also rejected Bozeman Republican Art Wittich's accusations of misconduct and abuse of process against Commissioner Jonathan Motl for bringing a civil action against Wittich for campaign law violations.

Motl's lawsuit asks Sherlock to uphold the commissioner's findings that Wittich coordinated with and took illegal corporate contributions from the conservative group Western Tradition Partnership.

If Sherlock agrees with Motl's findings, Wittich could be removed from office.

Wittich filed counterclaims against Motl, saying the commissioner's ulterior motive is to remove Wittich.

Wittich also claimed Gov. Steve Bullock, Republican Sen. Bruce Tutvedt of Kalispell and Motl's predecessor, Jim Murry, conspired against him.

(Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Triple-Murder Suspect Due in Court Wednesday
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - A man accused in a triple murder on Montana's Crow Indian Reservation is due in court Wednesday for a mental health competency hearing.

Twenty-five-year-old Sheldon Bernard Chase has been ordered to appear via video conference from the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri. Also ordered to appear was prison psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Tyner.

Authorities say in October 2011 Chase took a rifle from his mother's house in North Dakota and travelled to the Crow reservation, where he shot his grandmother, cousin and the cousin's boyfriend.

If U.S. District Judge Susan Watters upholds an earlier determination that Chase is incompetent to stand trial, he'll go through a civil commitment process that could send him to an institution for the rest of his life.

UPDATE: JUDGE: MURDER SUSPECT LIKELY TO BE COMMITTED

A federal judge says a man accused in a 2011 triple murder on Montana's Crow Indian Reservation is likely to be committed to a psychiatric institution after he was found incompetent to stand trial.

Wednesday's incompetency ruling from U.S. District Judge Susan Watters came after a government psychologist testified that 25-year-old defendant Sheldon Bernard Chase suffers from a combination of schizophrenia and depression.

(Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Woman Who Left Hospital Denies Forgery Charge
ANACONDA, Mont. (AP) - A 29-year-old woman who fled the Anaconda hospital after she and her newborn tested positive for methamphetamine has pleaded not guilty to a forgery charge that alleges she checked into the hospital using her sister's name.

Michelle Yallup entered her plea in District Court on Wednesday and was ordered held on $30,000 bond. Her public defender asked for a bond reduction hearing to be held later.

Yallup gave birth to her son on June 17. Prosecutors say she left the hospital against medical advice that night and was on the run for five weeks before her capture in Willard, Utah on July 21. Utah officials decided not to pursue charges including child abuse and possession of marijuana.

Yallup has not yet been charged with any harm to her child in Montana.

The hospital bill was $13,338.

(Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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Our regional news brings relevance to issues of importance - news coverage that relates to residents of North Central Montana. Accurate, timely information delivered in a prompt and cohesive manner. Regional and state news are developed through a working relationship with other radio stations throughout the region and state of Montana.

Expanded hourly updates are delivered at the top of each hour at 6, 7, 8 and 9 a.m. and every afternoon at 4 and 5 p.m. Headline news, breaking stories and updates available all other hours. "Montana at Noon" is a more in-depth review of the news starting daily at 12:15 p.m. daily.

Residents of North Central Montana have long recognized the quality and timeliness of our newscasts. Additional recognition of our news at the national, regional and state level comes from the Associated Press, Society for Professional Journalists, the Greater Montana Foundation and the Radio and Television News Director Association's prestigious Edward R. Murrow award.
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