Feb. 8 Regional News Briefs


County suspends sheriff charged with official misconduct

GREAT FALLS (AP) — County officials have suspended a northern Montana sheriff after state authorities say he violated law by distributing confidential investigative materials last year.

The Great Falls Tribune reports the Pondera County Commission on Wednesday voted unanimously to suspend Sheriff Carl Suta after the state Attorney General’s Office charged him with official misconduct last week.

Authorities say Suta gave confidential criminal justice information to a father involved in a child protective case.

Suta declined to comment Wednesday.

The commission suspended Suta with pay pending the outcome of the case against him. Undersheriff Bill Gobert will serve as sheriff during the suspension.

Suta must forfeit the office if he’s convicted. Suta is also awaiting trial in a domestic abuse case filed last year.


Michigan dad says Montana remains not his 3 missing sons

MORENCI, Mich. (AP) — The father of three missing Michigan brothers says teeth and bone fragments found in September in Missoula, Montana, don’t belong to them.

WDIV-TV reports John Skelton said those are not his “boys” when asked about the remains during an interview at a Michigan prison where he is serving 10 to 15 years for unlawful imprisonment.

Andrew, Alexander and Tanner Skelton were 9, 7 and 5 when they were last seen in 2010. Skelton failed to return them to his estranged wife in southern Michigan on Thanksgiving.

Skelton has said he gave the boys to a group to protect them from their mother.

DNA testing is being done on the remains.

Sgt. Travis Welsh says Missoula detectives have not spoken with Skelton, and there’s “no known connection” to the boys’ disappearance.


Bail kept at $500K for man charged in Bozeman stabbing

BOZEMAN (AP) — Bail was maintained at $500,000 for a 20-year-old Bozeman man charged with attempted deliberate homicide in the stabbing of his former girlfriend’s co-worker.

Gallatin County prosecutors allege Jonathan Douglas Meyer followed the victim home from work on Jan. 19. The victim told police he believed Meyer attacked him because he had been involved with Meyer’s ex-girlfriend.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports a search of Meyer’s phones turned up online searches for how to get blood stains off a knife. Court records say Meyer’s ex-girlfriend told investigators that Meyer acknowledged stabbing the victim four times in the chest and once in the buttocks.

His initial bail was set after his arrest in Lewis and Clark County. It was upheld Tuesday in Gallatin County despite a defense request to reduce it to $50,000.

Meyer did not enter a plea.


North Dakota climatologist says drought could continue

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s state climatologist says drought conditions could continue into this year.

Adnan Akyuz (AHD’-non AW’-kewz) tells the Bismarck Tribune that the potential for drought comes as wetter-than-normal weather is expected in February and March.

Akyuz says the lack of snow so far this winter makes the state vulnerable for drought as spring approaches.

The U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday shows nearly 97 percent of North Dakota is abnormally dry, and 61 percent of the state is experiencing moderate drought.


State lawmakers reject push to extend legislative terms

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota lawmakers have rejected a plan that would have asked voters to double their current two-year terms in office.

The House State Affairs Committee voted Wednesday to defeat the resolution. Republican Rep. Chris Karr, the sponsor, says it would strengthen the legislative branch and build the continuity of knowledge in the Legislature.

The proposed constitutional change would have extended lawmakers’ terms from two years to four. It would have also staggered when lawmakers would be elected and altered how South Dakota’s 8-year term limits would have been applied to currently serving lawmakers.

Republican Rep. David Lust, who opposed the constitutional amendment, says the current two-year cycle keeps lawmakers accountable.


South Dakota Senate panel rejects open government measure

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A legislative panel has rejected a bill that would have made some government correspondence such as emails public records under South Dakota law.

The Argus Leader reports that Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s office spearheaded the effort Wednesday to kill the legislation. A Senate panel voted 5-2 to reject it.

Democratic Sen. Billie Sutton, the bill’s sponsor, says documents produced using taxpayer funds should be available to them. He is running for governor.

The bill would have also made state officials’ calendars, memoranda and phone records subject to open record law.

The governor’s chief of staff, Tony Venhuizen, worried that records requests would force attorneys to go through emails to see if materials couldn’t be disclosed or should be redacted.

A House committee defeated a similar bill earlier this week.