Two of the Butte jail's longest incarcerated inmates — both serving time for child sex crimes — have been transferred to the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge after criminal proceedings were completed in Butte district court.
James Jerome Morrison Jr., 37, of Butte was there 550 days, and Robert Coffey, 33, of Anaconda for 489 days.
Coffey was arrested on Sept. 4, 2015, in a parking lot near East Middle School during school hours, where he believed he was to meet a teenage girl for sex, records show. He had a condom with him, according to reports.
The “girl” Coffey had been texting for over two weeks was actually an undercover Butte police detective with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force who baited Coffey after seeing an online posting of his.
Initially pleading not guilty to rape and child sex abuse charges, Coffey accepted a deal with prosecutors in June that dropped the rape charge in exchange for a guilty plea to child sex abuse. Judge Kurt Krueger sentenced Coffey in December 2016 to 25 years in prison with 17 of them suspended.
Morrison was arrested on Independence Day in 2015 for inappropriately touching a 10-year-old girl at a residence in Butte. Police said witnesses told them they had cornered Morrison in a residence and that he was armed with a knife. Morrison swore at police when they demanded he leave the residence, and when Morrison charged one officer, he was shot with a stun gun.
Morrison pleaded not guilty to charges of felony sexual assault until changing his plea to guilty in April 2016. Morrison wasn't sentenced until Tuesday, where Krueger gave him 20 years with 12 suspended in the state prison.
Morrison had filed in late October to dismiss the case, claiming his right to a speedy trial had been infringed, but Krueger dismissed the motion. Krueger sided with the prosecution, who argued that "the defendant has taken every effort to frustrate the continuation of this action until final adjudication. He is responsible for the delay and now merely seeks to be rewarded for his own actions in stalling and playing games with the process."