An 18-year-old driver who struck a Montana Highway Patrol car at the scene of a previous fatal crash on Harrison Avenue in December pleaded not guilty to three felony counts of criminal endangerment Thursday.
Mikel Solomon also pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor counts of drunken driving, reckless driving, and driving without insurance. He remains free on bond, and District Judge Brad Newman set the next hearing for March 1.
Each of the felony endangerment counts carries a possible 10-year prison sentence and $50,000 fine.
The Highway Patrol car was blocking lanes near the Copper King Hotel after a pickup truck heading south on Harrison hit a car driven by 32-year-old Cole Davis around 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 16. Davis died at the scene. His wife and the driver of the pickup were taken to the hospital.
The driver of the pickup was not cited at the scene, but the county attorney’s office is still investigating the crash to determine if charges should be filed.
While emergency personnel were on the scene of that crash, Solomon — driving a Suburban — smashed into the patrol car, prosecutors say. The trooper had to run to avoid being hit. Two other males, both age 16, were passengers in the Suburban.
A blood test done on Solomon showed he was over the legal limit, according to the charging document.
Prison this time?
A man who got a three-year suspended sentence for stealing a pickup truck could end up in prison if Newman rules that he violated probation terms.
Timothy Atkins pleaded guilty in September to felony theft for stealing the truck outside a residence on Galena Street on May 12, 2017. He was given a suspended sentence, in part because he had one prior felony record.
But he was arrested on new felony complaints last week, and prosecutors say he violated several conditions of probation. They said he tested positive for drugs, failed to report to probation officers, and moved residences without permission, among other things.
He pleaded not guilty to those violations Thursday, and Newman set the next hearing for March 13. Judges in Montana — not juries — determine whether sentences are to be revoked.
If Newman finds he violated probation, he could be sentenced up to 10 years, not just the three that were suspended.