A man who allegedly slashed three people with a knife outside of a Town Pump in Butte pleaded not guilty Thursday to three felony counts of assault with a weapon.
District Judge Kurt Krueger accepted the pleas from Zachariah Mickens, 27, and remanded him to jail with bail set at $100,000 pending further court proceedings. Mickens’s public defender said she would first file a motion seeking to have bail reduced.
If convicted on all three charges, Mickens could be sentenced up to 60 years in prison and fined up to $150,000.
According to prosecutors, Mickens and two men from Anaconda exchanged words outside of the Town Pump on South Montana Street late at night on March 26.
When the two men came out of the store, witnesses said, more words were exchanged, and Mickens hit one of the men. A fight ensued, and a Town Pump clerk joined in trying to break it up.
Police say Mickens cut all three with a knife during the fight and took off on foot. The three victims were treated at St. James Healthcare and released.
Police reviewed video footage and found and arrested Mickens several days later. The store clerk said Mickens had been kicked off the property before for trying to start fights.
Mickens told police the men from Anaconda started calling him names when they came out of the store, insulted a female he was with, and spit on her car. He said one of the men appeared to have a gun.
He only pulled out the knife, he said, when one of the men was pushing down on his head, making it hard to breath.
“He said because of the fear that he might get choked out he started swinging with a knife at anyone he saw just to get them away,” prosecutors said in a charging document.