Family of German exchange student sues shooter, girlfriend
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — The family of a 17-year-old German exchange student who was shot to death last spring in Montana has filed a lawsuit against the owners of the home where he was shot.
Celal Dede sued Markus Kaarma and Janelle Pflager in U.S. District Court in Missoula late Wednesday as a representative of the estate of his son, Diren Dede (DEER’-uhn DAY’-day).
The lawsuit seeks damages for Diren Dede’s medical and funeral costs, pain and suffering, wrongful death and lost earnings.
Kaarma was sentenced Thursday to 70 years in prison for deliberate homicide in Diren Dede’s death and won’t be eligible for parole for 20 years. Kaarma’s attorneys have said they will appeal his conviction.
The lawsuit argues Pflager had a duty to intervene to stop Kaarma from trapping Diren Dede in the garage and shooting him.
There is no phone listing for Pflager in Missoula.
Effort reborn to abolish death penalty in Montana
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana lawmakers are again considering a bill that would abolish the death penalty and replace it with a sentence of life in prison without parole.
Republican Rep. David Moore of Missoula introduced House Bill 370 Friday in the House Judiciary Committee.
Supporters say the practice is expensive and using it models the idea that killing is a legitimate way to end a conflict. Opponents say it’s a needed tool in the justice system. People on both sides of the issue spoke emotionally about their experiences with violence and the death penalty.
Similar bills have made it through the Senate in prior years but in the past two legislative sessions it has failed to gain traction in the House.
The committee did not take action on the measure Friday.
Tax reduction heard in Senate
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — State senators are considering the first of two Republican representatives’ plans to lower income taxes.
Republican Rep. Keith Regier introduced House Bill 166 in the Senate Taxation Committee on Friday. It would implement a permanent 0.1 percent income tax reduction in every Montana income bracket.
Republican Rep. Art Wittich has proposed lowering individual state income tax liability by 2.5 percent in 2015 and 2016 and creating a non-refundable credit of up to $100 for property tax on a primary residence. House Bill 169 has not been scheduled for a Senate hearing.
Regier said cuts to income tax were proven to stimulate the economy after the legislature implemented a 10 percent decrease a decade ago.
Both tax reductions passed out of the House of Representatives last Thursday.
Authorities say fraudulent tax cases up this year
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana authorities say they are seeing more fake tax returns filed due to a rise identity theft.
The Montana Department of Revenue said so far this tax season it has blocked 57 fraudulent returns totaling $64,000. That compares to 17 fraudulent returns by the end of January last year.
Revenue Director Mike Kadas says his agency is using extra security and review procedures to catch instances of fraud. He says that will slow down the issuance of refunds.
Taxpayers are being told to file early to pre-empt fraudulent filings and to change their usernames and passwords if they are using self-preparation tax software.
Officials say 20 other states and the federal Internal Revenue Service have reported similar problems with fraud this year.
Hamilton man charged with kidnapping, raping 17-year-old
HAMILTON, Mont. (AP) — A 32-year-old Hamilton man is charged with kidnapping, drugging and repeatedly raping a 17-year-old girl over a period of several days.
The Ravalli Republic reports Byron Craig Hall Jr. made an initial appearance in Justice Court Thursday on charges of aggravated kidnapping, sexual intercourse without consent, aggravated assault, child endangerment and numerous drug charges. Hall did not enter a plea. His bail was set at $750,000.
Court records say Hall met the girl at a college orientation and she invited him to her house. She told investigators that she mentioned Hall’s ex-girlfriend and he became extremely angry. She said he twice strangled her until she passed out, injected her with methamphetamines “a lot” and repeatedly raped her. The girl said Hall held her prisoner for several days both by force and the use of drugs. The girl’s 8-month-old child was present.
Trial set in $242K tribal embezzlement case
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — The former president of Stone Child College and her husband face trial next week on charges alleging they conspired to use federal money to overpay a construction company for work on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation in exchange for kickbacks totaling just over $242,000.
Melody Henry and Frank Gregory Henry, who was the college’s facilities department manager, each pleaded not guilty on Feb. 10 to conspiracy to embezzle federal funds, theft from an Indian tribal government receiving federal funds, accepting a bribe and theft from an Indian tribal organization.
U.S. District Judge Brian Morris scheduled their trial for Feb. 17 in Great Falls.
Prosecutors allege the Henrys conspired with Hunter Burns Construction, awarding about $530,000 in federal contracts in exchange for $242,000 in kickbacks between September 2010 and December 2012.
Man hit by train suffers broken arm
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A man who tried to jump across the railroad tracks in front of a freight train didn’t quite make it and suffered a badly broken arm.
Montana Rail Link spokesman Jim Lewis tells the Missoulian the injured man and a companion had crossed the trestle over the Blackfoot River near Milltown Thursday afternoon with one walking on each side of the double tracks.
Missoula County Sheriff’s Capt. Bill Burt says one man heard the train approaching from behind and ran. The other kept walking and at the last second tried to cross to the other side.
Burt says it appeared the 30-year-old man suffered a compound fracture to his arm and was taken to the hospital. The train was traveling at about 50 mph.
Lewis says both men face citations for trespassing.