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DEER LODGE — An Avon man was sentenced in Deer Lodge district court recently to 10 years in Montana State Prison for felony criminal endangerment, suspended, with credit for 186 days served.

Jerry Walter Brander, 57, must pay $80 in court fees and will be under supervision of the adult probation and parole bureau for the term of his sentence.

Initially charged with felony DUI, fourth or more, Brander pleaded guilty in February to an amended charge of criminal endangerment although he did not agree with all the facts but agreed there was probable cause for the amended charge. Admitting he is an alcoholic, Brander said he was in a motor vehicle with alcohol that he drank, knowing it put everyone he met in danger.

According to court records, on the afternoon of April 24, a Montana Highway Patrol officer saw a blue half-ton pickup in Elliston that matched an earlier attempt-to-locate report out of Helena. The officer saw Brander sitting in the truck with the key in the ignition. When Brander got out of the vehicle, he was unsteady on his feet and failed a field sobriety test. There was a case of beer in the pickup, and Brander had a small amount of marijuana in his pocket.

In other recent court proceedings:

• LaDonna Jean West, 44, of Deer Lodge was given two three-year commitments to the Department of Corrections for felony burglary and theft. Both sentences were suspended and will run concurrently. She was ordered to pay restitution of $2,200 and $150 court fees. Judge Ray Dayton told her that if restitution is not paid by the end of the suspended sentence, a $250 fine will also be imposed.

West previously admitted that she went into a local residence with the intent to deceive the resident. Several times between June 1 and Sept. 1, 2016, she visited with the woman while an accomplice took her debit card. The pair used the card to get money from the woman’s account at the bank’s ATM machine then returned to the house, replaced the card, and later split the money.

• Brian Joseph Holliday, 36, pleaded guilty to and was sentenced to five years in Montana State Prison for possession of a deadly weapon by a prisoner. The sentence will run consecutive to the 90-year term he is serving for deliberate homicide in Flathead County. Judge Dayton said this was a significant incident and the sentence will require Holliday to serve more time before being eligible for parole.

Holliday admitted that, during a search of his cell, officers found a knife hidden in a hole in the cell wall. According to court records, they found two sharpened weapons, two syringes, several pieces of metal, sandpaper, foil, and a manufactured handcuff key.

• Arthur Rex Rochelle, 61, of Helena pleaded not guilty to felony criminal endangerment. Rochelle, who has 30 aliases, identified himself as Ymir-Jule von Koeniges-Tyrvaldssen saying Rochelle is his half-brother. However, County Attorney Lewis Smith told the court an FBI number identifies him as Arthur Rex Rochelle.

Court records indicate Rochelle is charged with criminal endangerment for traveling the wrong way on I-90, ignoring officers with emergency lights, and continuing to drive east-bound in the west-bound lane. Twice he drove into the median and then continued east-bound in the wrong lane until a stop stick was deployed by a highway patrol officer. He refused to leave the Jeep vehicle, but officers allegedly approached from the rear of the vehicle, took him to the ground, and handcuffed him. At the time, Rochelle was naked and had a plastic grocery bag covering his genitals. He was allegedly uncooperative with law enforcement and medical personnel, who tried to determine what type of drugs he was taking to cause his condition. He was also cited for no valid driver’s license, criminal possession of dangerous drugs — marijuana, second offense — fleeing or eluding a police officer, and no seatbelt. Rochelle is in jail on $25,000 bond.

• Robert J. Berger, 45, of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, pleaded not guilty to felony charges of criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute 127 grams of marijuana, felony; criminal possession of dangerous drugs, meth; and criminal possession of dangerous drugs, THC concentrated hash oil, as well as misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence of dangerous drugs; possession of drug paraphernalia; and possession of dangerous drugs, marijuana under 60 grams.

According to court records, Berger was arrested the night of July 24 after he had a vehicle accident south of Deer Lodge. He allegedly was returning to Lake Havasu City from Washington State where recreational marijuana use is legal, but it is not in Montana. He is in jail on $5,000 bond.


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