May 30 Regional News Briefs

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Man says he involuntarily pleaded guilty in shooting death

BILLINGS (AP) — A man involved in a fatal shooting in southern Montana wants to go to trial, saying depression and other mental health problems caused him to involuntarily plead guilty. The Billings Gazette reported Wednesday that 33-yearold Thomas Schifferns, of Red Lodge, has filed a motion to withdraw his plea in the Feb. 19, 2018, death of 63-year-old James McGregor. Schifferns says the shooting outside of Red Lodge was an accident involving “two very drunk individuals playing with a loaded gun.” Prosecutors say he stole about $1,500 from McGregor, used a handgun during the theft and then threw the weapon in a snowbank. According to court documents, Schifferns told a woman he killed McGregor because he was “homeless and disrespectful.” Schifferns pleaded guilty in March to deliberate homicide.

Elk injures concession employee at Yellowstone

BILLINGS (AP) — Yellowstone National Park officials say a concession employee was injured by a cow elk in the developed part of Mammoth Hot Springs. The Billings Gazette reports the worker was hurt Wednesday morning and was hospitalized. Details about the interaction and the extent of her injuries haven’t been released. Yellowstone biologists and rangers hazed the elk from the area, which is home to the park’s headquarters, a hotel and a visitor center. Elk are attracted to the area for food and protection from predators, and cow elk often hide their calves near buildings or in sagebrush. They are at the height of their calving season, which can start in mid-May and extend into late June. Park officials haven’t released the name or age of the employee who was injured.

Mobile home owners see higher taxes as property values rise

BOZEMAN (AP) — Mobile home owners near Bozeman are seeing their property values rise, resulting in higher tax assessments. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported Wednesday that early estimates indicate mobile homes in Gallatin County are seeing about a 40% increase in property tax values. Candice Cahill says her mobile home in Bozeman was worth $27,000 when she purchased it in 2014. Her home is now valued at $60,000. She says the taxable value hasn’t increased at the same rate as the market value, but the land rent has gone up each year. She says she’s not sure if she can afford to continue living in Bozeman. Montana Department of Revenue spokesman Sanjay Talwani says the property’s condition, the number of bedrooms and neighboring property values factor into determining tax market values.

Court: Montana authorities shouldn’t have arrested man

BILLINGS (AP) — A federal court says a Montana judge and sheriff’s deputy violated a Mexican-born man’s rights when they detained and arrested him before he was turned over to federal immigration authorities. The ruling comes in a lawsuit that claimed Miguel Angel Reynaga Hernandez suffered emotional and economic harm as a result of a three-month detention beginning in October 2017. U.S. District Judge Susan Watters said Wednesday the defendants should not have removed Hernandez from a Billings courthouse based solely on suspicions he was in the country illegally. Watters turned down a request for a declaration from the court that Yellowstone County Justice of the Peace Pedro Hernandez and Deputy Derrek Skinner acted illegally. The Seattle-based Northwest Immigrant Rights Project sued on behalf of Miguel Hernandez last year seeking monetary damages.

Man denies charges he crashed into house, killing teen

KALISPELL (AP) — A 31-year-old northwestern Montana man has denied charges that allege he was intoxicated and crashed his pickup truck into a house, killing a 15-year-old girl as she slept in her bed. ABC Fox Montana reports Jared Parsons of Kalispell pleaded not guilty Thursday to negligent vehicular homicide while under the influence for the April 26 crash in Evergreen that killed Erin Howk. Parsons also pleaded not guilty to failure to remain at the scene of a crash. Parsons is jailed in Kalispell. His bail was set at $500,000.

Criminal charges filed following scuffle with gun

JAMESTOWN, N.D. (AP) — A Jamestown man accused of trying to grab a loaded handgun as police tried to pull him from his SUV is facing criminal charges. Authorities say 47-year-old Ray Hunter was arrested at M & H gas station last month after he was suspected of creating a disturbance or committing a crime. Police say he refused to comply with officers’ commands to get out of his vehicle and lunged for the gun. Officers disarmed him and the handgun dropped to the ground. One officer received minor injuries in the scuffle. KQDJ reports Hunter is charged with criminal attempted murder, reckless endangerment, terrorizing, preventing arrest and possession of a controlled substance. He remains in custody at the Stutsman County Correctional Center on $50,000 bond.