New Montana District Court Judge Robert Whelan served his first day on the bench in open court in Butte Wednesday, holding hearings on numerous adult criminal cases and some juvenile matters.
His first adult case involved Ethan Christopher Boroni, who pleaded not guilty to felony assault with a weapon for allegedly slashing his father in the hand with a knife during an argument over a sweatshirt.
Whelan accepted the plea and Boroni, 20, remains jailed pending bail set at $25,000. He is awaiting sentencing in another case before Judge Kurt Krueger after pleading guilty to criminal endangerment in a proposed deal with prosecutors.
In the most recent case, he is accused of cutting his father’s finger with a fixed-blade hunting knife on Nov. 3.
The father said his son came into his room, began going through his drawers and got mad when told he could not wear the father’s clothes. He said his son pushed him around, slammed his head against a door, swiped him in the hand with the knife and repeatedly threatened to kill him.
Boroni told police he and his father had argued over a sweatshirt and when things got heated, he left. He said he lost the knife he usually carries the day before while working on his car.
Whelan, who was elected to the bench this past November, set the next hearing for Feb. 13.
In the first case, Boroni was accused of arguing with a 16-year-old girl in the parking lot of the Safeway on Front Street. He jumped into a car and tried to drive away with her on the back holding onto the roof rack. Onlookers were able to stop the car and get the teen girl off safely, prosecutors say.
In the proposed pre-trial agreement in that case, prosecutors said he had no prior criminal record and were recommending he get a three-year deferred sentence subject to numerous probation terms. Sentencing is set for Jan. 17.