Jan. 14 Regional News Briefs

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Montana man gets 80 years in prison for double slaying

HELENA (AP) — A man convicted of deliberate homicide in the slayings of a couple in their Montana home has been sentenced to 80 years in prison. The Independent Record reports Kyle Hamm was sentenced Monday for the deaths of 64-year-old Charla Taylor and 61-year-old David Taylor, who were found dead in their home north of Helena in March 2018. The couple’s son, Kaleb Taylor, pleaded guilty to deliberate homicide and was sentenced to life in prison. A third defendant, Journey Wienke, also was convicted and is awaiting sentencing. Prosecutors say the Taylors had confronted their son after he burglarized their business to get money to pay a drug debt. Hamm told investigators the three drove to the home together the night of the slayings but said he stayed in the truck with the door open as Kaleb Taylor and Wienke went inside. Hamm was charged under a state law that says a person who is “legally accountable” for a robbery, assault with a weapon or other forcible felony that causes the death of another person is guilty of deliberate homicide. Hamm will be eligible for parole in 20 years.

Most state lawmakers gather in Helena for Legislative Week

HELENA (AP) — About 120 of the state’s 150 legislators were expected to gather in Helena for Legislative Week starting Monday. Lawmakers have scheduled several interim committee meetings this week in what they describe as a way of trying out meeting every year, the Great Falls Tribune reported. The Montana Legislature now meets in a 90-day session every other year, but a bill passed last year asks lawmakers to consider changing that to annual 45-day sessions. About two dozen meetings are planned this week, including training sessions and a dinner for legislators.

Glacier National Park chalet reopens for business after fire

MISSOULA (AP) — A chalet in Glacier National Park is ready to begin taking reservations for the first time since a wildfire gutted the structure, officials said The Sperry Chalet is expected to begin taking reservations online Monday at 8 a.m., KECI-TV reports. The chalet dormitory fell prey to a wildfire in August 2017 and required a reconstruction of the facility, National Park Service officials said. The park service authorized at least $12 million to rebuild the chalet, which is located at the end of a 6.7-mile (11-kilometer) hike in the park. The chalet will be available for stays from July 18 to Sept.

13. Both the Granite and Sperry chalets in the park are normally booked for the summer within 10 to 15 minutes, officials said.

Driver license stations to be open on Martin Luther King Day

HELENA (AP) — Seven driver license offices will be open on Martin Luther King Day to provide additional times for residents to renew or replace Montana driver’s licenses or to obtain state identification or REAL ID cards, the Montana Motor Vehicle Division announced Tuesday. Offices in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell and Missoula will be open on Jan. 20 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. No appointments are needed and walk-in customers will be assisted on a first-come, first-served basis. MVD Express in Billings will also be open for driver license services and vehicle registrations. Convenience fees apply. The offices were also open on the Veteran’s Day holiday in November to serve more people, in part due to the additional information required to get a REAL ID and in part due to a staffing shortage among licensing clerks, the Department of Justice has said. Appointments are required during regular hours to renew a driver’s license, get a state identification card or a REAL ID. REAL ID-compliant identification, passports, passport cards or military or tribal identifications will be needed to board commercial flights starting on Oct. 1. There are no driver’s license or state ID appointments available in Bozeman until the last week of March and early April. Appointments in Billings and Missoula are seven weeks out while the earliest Helena appointments were six weeks out on Tuesday.

Faulty valve blamed for North Dakota oil wastewater spill

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — State environmental officials say a spill of oilfield wastewater caused by a faulty valve has affected some pastureland in western North Dakota. The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality said the 12,180-gallon (46,000 liters) produced water spill happened on Saturday at a well pad about 14 miles (22.5 kilometers) east of Watford City. Minotbased Landtech Enterprises notified regulators of the spill on Monday. State environmental scientist Bill Suess said only about 168 gallons (635 liters) of produced water escaped the well site. He said about 800 square feet (74 square meters) of pastureland was affected. He said no water sources were harmed. Produced water is a mixture of saltwater and oil that can contain drilling chemicals. It’s a byproduct of oil and gas development.