Great Falls man convicted of raping 4-year-old
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) - A Cascade County jury found a 26-year-old Great Falls man guilty of raping a 4-year-old girl.
The Great Falls Tribune reports jurors deliberated for about two hours Wednesday before convicting Travis Morgan McAlister of sexual intercourse without consent. Sentencing is set for July 29.
The girl, now 5, testified via video that she and McAlister watched sexy movies and did what was in the movies.
Defense attorney Jeff Sutton argued none of the state's experts said his client abused the girl and his client did not confess. He argued the only evidence was the girl's statement, "which is at best wishy-washy."
Deputy county attorney Josh Racki told jurors that McAlister was counting on jurors not believing the testimony of a 5-year-old girl.
MISSING HELENA WOMAN
Woman admits violating probation with Calif. trip
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A 22-year-old Helena woman who was reported missing in December after her children were found alone in an apartment at the YWCA has pleaded guilty to violating her probation in a drug case by traveling to California.
The Independent Record reports Angelica Gray admitted to 3 of 6 violations charged in a petition by her probation officer during a hearing before District Judge Mike Menahan on Wednesday.
Gray was on probation after receiving a 3-year deferred sentence for possessing hallucinogenic mushrooms and marijuana. Sentencing for the probation violations is set for July 3.
Gray also has pleaded not guilty to a criminal endangerment charge because her children were left unattended. Officers searched for her for nearly three weeks before arresting her in California in late December. She has been jailed since then.
LEASE FRAUD INVESTIGATION
Calif. couple face contempt charges for jail call
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - A California couple convicted in a Bakken oil investment scam is due to be arraigned Thursday in federal court in Montana on contempt charges.
Federal prosecutors say Suzette Gal had a telephone conversation with her jailed husband, Mike Campa, and discussed evidence in her case four days into a trial that resulted in her conviction on fraud and conspiracy charges.
Campa already had pleaded guilty, and he and Gal were under a court order not to discuss the case. Court documents indicate their call was recorded.
They face up to six months in prison on one count each of contempt of court.
Attorneys for the couple say they will plead not guilty but declined further comment on the case.
Butte woman arrested after boy hit by SUV
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) - A 26-year-old Butte woman was arrested after a sport utility vehicle struck a 3-year-old boy and knocked him off his bicycle before leaving the scene.
Police in Butte say the boy was hit Tuesday afternoon and the SUV drove away.
KTVM-TV reports Elizabeth Ann Bettle was arrested when she returned to the area. She was cited for hit & run and interfering with traffic while backing up.
Butte-Silver Bow County Undersheriff George Skuletich says the boy was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
BLACK BEAR SHOT
Black bear spotted in Forsyth shot by rancher
FORSYTH, Mont. (AP) - State wildlife officials say a black bear that had been spotted within the city limits of Forsyth was shot by a rancher who believed it was threatening his livestock.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials in Miles City say the bear was shot Tuesday morning just northeast of Forsyth.
The male bear weighed about 190 pounds. It had been spotted several times since Sunday.
FWP biologists are seeing more black bear activity in southeast Montana, so the agency has increased the fall black bear harvest quota.
In a statement released by FWP, Warden Matt Hagedorn says a bear cannot be shot just because it is spotted near livestock, but people can legally shoot bears or other wildlife if they are caught attacking or threatening a person or livestock.
Oil leasing dispute heads to federal court
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Attorneys for the government and the oil industry will square off against environmental groups Friday in federal court in Montana in a dispute over greenhouse-gas emissions from oil and gas drilling.
The Montana Environmental Information Center and two other groups want U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon to cancel Bureau of Land Management oil and gas leases covering almost 80,000 acres in Montana.
They argue the agency did not fairly consider that greenhouse gas emissions from drilling activities could make climate change worse.
The BLM counters that the emissions from machinery and the venting of excess natural gas are insignificant.
Several industry groups have intervened in the case. They say the environmentalists behind the 2011 lawsuit cannot prove they suffered any specific harm from the lease sales.
RUSSELL MUSEUM FUNDRAISER
Russell Museum fundraiser breaks $1M mark
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) - The C.M. Russell Museum says it brought in more than $1 million in net income from its Western Art Week and Russell Auction held in March.
Museum executive director Michael Duchemim says the museum brought in a record $1.03 million from the 3-day sale and auction. $180,000 of that will go toward student programs and scholarships.
Duchemim tells the Great Falls Tribune the rest of the money will be used for operating expenses, including staff salaries, security and utility bills.
The highest-price artwork sold at the auction was Charlie Russell's "High, Wide and Handsome," which went for $550,000.
MISSOULA HORSE RACING
Missoula County commissioners end horse racing
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - The Missoula County commissioners have voted to exclude the half-mile horse racing track from development plans at the fairgrounds for the next five years, meaning no races can be run during that time.
The Missoulian reports commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday night. Commissioner Bill Carey says horse racing was once a viable industry, but isn't any longer.
The only racing in Missoula over the past six years was a 2-day meet produced by a private company in 2010. The last full-scale race meet in Missoula was held in 2006.
Last week, Cascade County commissioners approved a 1-year contract with the Great Falls Turf Club to hold a 4-day meet. Miles City completed three days of racing last weekend. No other races are planned in Montana this year.
MEDICAID FRAUD SETTLEMENT-MONTANA
Mont. to receive $218K in Medicaid case
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Montana is expected to receive nearly $218,000 from a $500 million legal settlement over allegations that an India-based pharmaceutical manufacturer distributed adulterated drugs.
Attorney General Tim Fox says the adulterated drugs resulted in false or fraudulent claims submitted to Montana's Medicaid program.
The company, Ranbaxy, agreed to pay states and the federal government $350 million in civil damages and penalties, as well as $150 million in criminal fines and forfeitures.
Terms of the deal were released last week.
Fox said in a statement Wednesday the total portion recovered by Montana is $762,386, while the net amount available for the state's use is $217,961.
Montana's share will go to the state Department of Public Health and Human Services, which administers Montana's Medicaid program.
DOODLE GOOGLE WINNER
Wis. teen wins Google's national contest
SPARTA, Wis. (AP) - A Wisconsin teen is the winner of Doodle 4 Google's national contest with her art called "Coming Home."
Sabrina Brady of Sparta says she created the art in honor of the day her Dad returned home from Iraq after 18 months of military service.
It was featured on the Google home page Thursday. It shows a girl, in black and white, moving toward a soldier with an American flag in her hand. The last letter in the Google logo is a colorful image of the girl hugging the soldier.
Brady wins a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 technology grant for her school.
The Great Falls Tribune reports Brady's father, Bryce, and mother, April, graduated from C.M. Russell High School in 1993. Her grandfather Branch Brady taught and coached track at CMR for 28 years.
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