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Montana News - AP

ATTEMPTED RAPE TRIAL

Trial begins for man accused of trying to rape a woman

(Information in the following story is from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com)

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — The attorney for a man who escaped from police custody after being arrested for trying to rape a woman in February 2014 said he choked her because she was trying to attack him with knives.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that opening arguments in the trial of Kevin Briggs began Tuesday. Briggs faces several felony counts, including attempted sexual intercourse without consent and assault on a peace officer.

The woman alleged Briggs drugged, assaulted and tried to rape her.

However, defense attorney Annie DeWolf told jurors that Briggs and the woman had played some music, drank smoothies and both recreationally injected a prescription sleep medication before they got into a fight and the woman lunged at Briggs with a knife.

Briggs escaped from police after his arrest. He was apprehended in Portland, Oregon, three weeks later.

TRIBAL CORRUPTION

Chippewa Cree official pleads guilty in corruption probe

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Chippewa Cree tribe's former roads department head and environmental health leader has pleaded guilty to taking bribes and stealing tribal funds.

Timothy Rosette entered his guilty pleas to three criminal counts Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Great Falls.

Prosecutors say Havre businessman Shad Huston gave Rosette cash in exchange for awarding contracts to Huston's companies for work on the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation.

Huston has pleaded not guilty to bribery and to submitting fraudulent invoices for the work the company did.

Prosecutors also accused Rosette of accepting bribes and gifts from another contractor and one of its owners, James Eastlick Jr. Eastlick was previously convicted in the wide-ranging federal corruption investigation on the reservation.

Rosette is to be sentenced on Oct. 29.

MOUNTAIN WATER-MISSOULA

Regulators to press ahead on Missoula water sale review

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana's Public Service Commission has denied a request by Missoula officials to reject a Canadian company's proposed purchase of the city's drinking water system.

The five-member regulatory panel voted 5-0 Tuesday to continue its review of The Carlyle Group's proposed sale of Park Water Co. to Algonquin Power and Utilities Corp. The $327 million deal includes Missoula's Mountain Water Co. and two water systems in California.

The city recently won a court ruling allowing it to purchase Mountain Water, but the condemnation case has not been finalized and Carlyle is still the owner.

The PSC also rejected the city's request to force the Ontario-based Algonquin to participate directly in the review instead of its U.S.-based subsidiary.

The panel will hold a hearing on the proposed acquisition in October.

MT-RETIREMENT BENEFITS LAWSUIT

Public employee retirees settle lawsuit with state

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The state of Montana has settled a lawsuit with retired state and local government employees that will allow them to keep a 3 percent annual increase in pension benefits.

Retirees sued after the 2013 Legislature cut the increases in an attempt to restore financial stability to the pension system.

A Helena judge ruled in March that the law violated a constitutional contracts clause and said the reductions weren't necessary because other pension system remedies were available.

The retirees said the case was dismissed last week after both sides agreed to drop their appeals to the Montana Supreme Court. The settlement affects about 20,000 retired workers.

A Helena judge in July blocked the 2013 law that cut annual pension increases for retired teachers after the state teachers' union filed a similar lawsuit.

GLACIER WILDFIRE

Glacier park officials to reopen Logan Pass access

ST. MARY, Mont. (AP) — Glacier National Park officials say they plan to reopen access to one of the park's main attractions that had been closed due to a nearby wildfire.

The west side of Going-to-the-Sun Road will open Wednesday to Logan Pass on the Continental Divide.

The east side of the 50-mile road will remain closed from Logan Pass to St. Mary. The 5-square-mile wildfire is burning around the roadway near Lower St. Mary Lake.

Park officials warned visitors to expect delays and traffic congestion with just one way to and from Logan Pass, and they encouraged use of the park's shuttle buses or guided tours.

Cool weather, rain and high humidity have helped firefighters contain nearly half of the fire, but warmer temperatures Tuesday were expected to increase the fire activity.

STILLWATER MINING

Union workers again reject contract with Stillwater Mining

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Union workers have again rejected a proposed four-year contract with the only company mining platinum and palladium in the United States.

Stillwater Mining Co. employees voted down a contract Monday night that would keep the pay and benefits of about 900 Montana miners mostly consistent with the contract that ended in early June. They rejected the same proposal June 10.

United Steelworkers Local 11-0001 announced the vote on its website. No vote tally was published and union representatives were not immediately available Tuesday.

Stillwater says in a Tuesday news release the company will consider all long-term alternatives following the workers' decision.

Workers were outraged this year to learn that Stillwater CEO Michael "Mick" McMullen received an 8 percent raise while the company cuts elsewhere to cope with declining precious metal prices.

HIT-AND-RUN ARREST

Suspect arrested in Bozeman hit-and-run

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Police in Bozeman have arrested a suspect in a weekend hit-and-run that seriously injured a 72-year-old man.

Police say 31-year-old Jerry Edwards Dickson was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of tampering with evidence and not reporting an accident involving an injury. He is scheduled to make an initial appearance in Justice Court on Wednesday.

Investigators say William Kasun was struck early Saturday while trying to cross the street in Bozeman and thrown about 110 feet. Kasun was spotted by passing motorists and taken to the hospital. He suffered a head injury, broken ribs and fractures to his face and neck. He was listed in serious condition at a Billings hospital on Tuesday.

Dickson's roommate went to police Monday after hearing about the collision to report that Dickson had damaged her vehicle after borrowing it early Saturday.

MISSOULA-SHOOTING DEATH

Officials ID shooting victim found outside hospital

(Information in the following story is from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com)

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Missoula County officials have released the name of a Washington state man who was found dead in a vehicle outside a western Montana hospital.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Brenda Bassett said the victim was 25-year-old Jake Colvin, of Valley, Washington.

Colvin was found dead in sport utility vehicle outside St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula early Sunday afternoon.

Police are investigating whether Colvin may have been shot in Spokane, Washington, and are trying to determine when he died during the drive to Missoula.

The Missoulian reports the driver, 34-year-old Leo Rodriguez, of Spokane, Washington, was charged Tuesday with tampering with evidence. On Tuesday, he made an initial court appearance, where his bail was set at $100,000.

Police from Missoula and Spokane continue to investigate the shooting.

FATAL CRASH-ROUNDUP

Police identify woman killed in rollover crash near Roundup

(Information in the following story is from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Musselshell County sheriff's officials have identified the 31-year-old North Dakota woman who was killed in a single-vehicle rollover crash east of Roundup.

The Billings Gazette reports that Melissa Victoria Lane, of Bismarck, North Dakota, died Wednesday after she swerved to miss a deer on U.S. Highway 12. The Chevrolet Trailblazer she was driving went off the side of the road and rolled through a barbed wire fence.

Those injured in the wreck include five children ages 5 months to 12 years, as well as a 32-year-old man. Officials say Lane and two passengers were ejected from the vehicle. The current status of the passengers is unknown at this time.Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment 
ATTEMPTED RAPE TRIAL

Trial begins for man accused of trying to rape a woman

(Information in the following story is from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com)

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