April 26 Montana News Briefs

MSU faculty members vote down Koch-funded research center

BOZEMAN (AP) — Montana State University faculty members have voted against establishing an economic research center funded by a five-year grant from the Charles Koch Foundation. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports the university will continue to use the $5.7 million grant that was awarded in 2016 to two professors for research regardless of the faculty senate vote Wednesday. Supporters of creating the Center for Regulation and Applied Economic Analysis say it would have given the university research a higher profile and possibly helped attract more grants. Professors who voted against the center cited concerns that establishing the center would be an endorsement of the Koch Foundation. The multimillion dollar gift is coming from Republican donor Charles Koch, who is known for supporting limited government and lower taxes.

Man sentenced for killing man with trampoline pole

BILLINGS (AP) — A Montana man has been sentenced to four years in prison for hitting another man in the back of the head with a trampoline pole, killing him. The Billings Gazette reports that Derek Dexter Shoulderblade was sentenced on Wednesday for the September 2017 death of 30-year-old Ozzy Lee Wilson. Court documents say that Shoulderblade, then 23, was at a party in Lame Deer when an attendee said something that angered him. Shoulderblade left the party, then returned and confronted Wilson out front of the house — hitting him in the back of the head with the metal pole. Wilson was taken to a hospital where he died. Shoulderblade pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter as part of a plea deal rather than the original charge of second-degree murder.

US Attorney General visiting Montana, talk about drug crisis

BILLINGS (AP) — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is scheduled to visit Billings on Friday to talk about the nation’s drug crisis. The Billings Gazette reports Sessions will deliver his remarks to law enforcement partners at the Rimrock Foundation starting at about 1:15 p.m. The news media will be allowed to attend, but the Department of Justice says he will not take questions after his formal speech, which is not open to the public. Sessions is also scheduled to speak in Fargo, North Dakota, on Friday. During a speech in North Carolina last week, Sessions said the federal government will continue to provide state and local law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to reduce opioid abuse, adding that ending the drug crisis is a top priority for President Donald Trump’s administration.

Media seek to intervene in suspended officer case

BILLINGS (AP) — The Billings Gazette and KTVQ-TV are seeking to intervene in a case filed by three police officers who want to keep their names private after they were suspended for having sex with a civilian police employee on city property. Media organizations asked the city to release the officers’ names after learning about the suspensions. The city agreed to do so. The officers then sought an injunction and a hearing over whether their identities should become public. District Judge Michael Moses granted the officers a temporary restraining order Monday and set a hearing for May

3. The newspaper and television station want to argue during that hearing in favor of releasing the names. The Billings Police Department has identified the woman involved. Two of the encounters took place while the officers were on duty.

Butte man sentenced to state hospital for attempted homicide

BUTTE (AP) — A 25-year-old Butte man has been sentenced to 25 years in state custody after pleading guilty to trying to shoot a woman with whom he became obsessed. The Montana Standard reports District Judge Brad Newman sentenced Kyle Robert Sholey on Wednesday for attempted deliberate homicide. Prosecutors say Sholey went out with the woman once or twice five or six years ago and had stalked her on-andoff since. On May 1, 2017, Sholey tried to barge into the woman’s apartment with a pistol and a stun gun. He pulled the trigger on the pistol several times, but it did not fire. Sholey fled and shot himself in the face. The health department will determine Sholey’s placement, but Newman recommended the secure Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs. His family testified he struggles with severe mental health issues.

Trial is set for next month in 2017 East Glacier stabbing

GREAT FALLS (AP) — A federal trial is set next month for a 21-year-old man charged with fatally stabbing another man after a wedding last July in East Glacier. William Arocha Jr. was already convicted of assault and negligent endangerment in Blackfeet Tribal Court for the July 5 death of 35-year-old Shane LaPlant of Browning. The Great Falls Tribune reports Arocha was sentenced to one year and nine months in jail and ordered to pay $775,000 in restitution to the victim’s family. Tribal prosecutor Dawn Gray says restitution is the purpose for the tribal court conviction, because someone who takes a life is responsible to the victim’s family for the rest of their life. Arocha faces a federal trial on May 7 on a charge of second-degree murder. Prosecutors say LaPlant was stabbed at least two-dozen times.

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