Price sentenced to life for murder of Miles City man

Scott Austin Price, 38, a Miles City native, was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole, plus 10 years for use of a weapon, on Monday afternoon in Miles City.

Price had entered a conditional guilty plea in September for the murder of Ed Martin, 78, of Miles City, and the aggravated kidnapping of his wife, Helen Martin.

The crimes were committed on Dec. 14, 2015 at the Martins’ North Second Street home.

Price was sentenced to life on each of the two counts, to be served concurrently, while the 10 years additional time is to be served consecutively to the life sentence. 

Judge Michael Hayworth of the 16th Judicial District Court pronounced the sentence in the Custer County Courthouse.

Price appeared in court by video on Monday from Missoula, where he is awaiting sentencing for another murder and other crimes, with Public Defender Matt Wald. 

Public Defender Joe Zavatsky, and prosecutors County Attorney Wyatt Glade and Assistant Montana Attorney General Catherine Truman, were in the courtroom. 

According to court records, Price went to the Martins’ house to look at a 2001 Chevrolet 1500 pickup truck that was for sale. After test-driving the truck he expressed an interest in a fifth-wheel trailer and he and Ed Martin went out to the trailer with flashlights.

A short time later Price returned to the home with a large gash on the bridge of his nose and asked Helen Martin for a bandage. He told her he had cut it on the trailer.

Price stated he and Ed Martin got into a disagreement over the price of the pickup and Ed Martin hit him on the nose with a Maglite flashlight. Price took a knife inside the trailer and stabbed Ed Martin in the neck, killing him.

“We were really happy” with the sentence,” Glade said in an interview Tuesday.

He explained that the prosecution didn’t believe Price’s story that he went to the Martins to buy a pickup and got into an argument. He needed $700 for drugs, Glade said. 

“He had no money to buy a pickup. He went over there to rob Ed,” he said.

At the sentencing hearing Monday witness Cady Fietz said Price approached her the day before the murder attempting to buy methamphetamine. He had to come up with $700. The next day he gave her the money and had a cut on his nose. 

The plea agreement between the defense and prosecution called for life with no restriction on parole. 

Glade explained that the prosecution wasn’t going for the death penalty and to enter into a plea agreement with the maximum penalty is difficult for a defendant to accept. 

The defense wanted a chance at parole. 

Glade said there are several kinds of plea agreements and this one, called a binding agreement, allows the defendant to withdraw a guilty plea if the sentence exceeds the agreed upon sentence.

Glade said the judge didn’t feel there was any good reason to allow Price to be paroled.

Before this crime, Price had numerous felony convictions.

After Hayworth announced the sentence, without the chance of parole, he called for a recess at 3 p.m. to allow Price and his attorney to discuss whether Price would withdraw his guilty plea.

According to court records, the sentencing hearing continued at 3:06 p.m. with Price not withdrawing his plea. 

Price is set for appear for sentencing in Missoula on Monday. In September he plead guilty to the deliberate homicide, attempted deliberate homicide, conspiracy to commit aggravated kidnapping, tampering with evidence and solicitation to commit felony theft in the Dec. 21, 2015 murder of 56-year-old Lonette Keehner in Missoula, and an attack on an unidentified 68-year-old woman whom he stabbed when he planned to steal her car.

Price was arrested in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho on Dec. 22 on the Miles City and Missoula charges.