A Whitehall man was sentenced to five years in custody of state prison officials Thursday for firing a gun to intimidate an ex-girlfriend and keeping it on the center console as he drove her around on icy roads.
Dustin Woody, 24, had previously pleaded guilty to one felony count of criminal endangerment and one misdemeanor count of partner-family member assault, but prosecutors dropped an assault with a weapon charge.
District Judge Kurt Krueger went along with a plea agreement Thursday and sentenced Woody to 10 years with the Montana Department of Corrections, with five of them suspended. Woody also got one year for the partner assault conviction but it runs concurrent to the other sentence.
Samm Cox, lead prosecutor in the case, said it was Woody’s first felony conviction but the crime and a lengthy misdemeanor record warranted DOC custody.
According to charging documents, the ex-girlfriend said Woody called her on Jan. 4, 2018 and demanded she pick him up at a residence in Butte. When she got there, he told her he was driving, shot a gun in the air and got behind the wheel with the gun on the console.
Cox said Woody actually fired the gun, described as .22 rifle with a very short barrel, into the ground to intimidate the woman and she clearly feared for her safety.
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Another motorist called police saying someone in a Ford Fusion had tailgated them near Walmart, passed her in the wrong lane at a high speed and began to lose control on icy roads. Police located the car and eventually tracked down Woody and arrested him.
Woody’s attorney, Ellie Hill Smith, said her client was only 24 and had a year-old daughter.
“He is a smart young man who wants to take this opportunity to better his life and raise his daughter,” she told Krueger before he imposed the sentence.
Woody spoke briefly, too.
“I definitely want to be a part of my daughter’s life,” he said.