Havre’s District Court judge disregarded sentence recommendations in a plea bargain entered by a man who struck and injured three pedestrians with his vehicle in the early morning of Jan. 28, while heading home from a bar.
Alex Krier of Havre will spend eight years on probation, rather than the five years with the state Department of Corrections followed by five years of probation agreed to in the plea agreement.
Judge Dan Boucher sentenced Krier Monday, noting that he had shown great remorse throughout the proceedings and saying that eight years of supervision in the community would be an appropriate sentence.
Boucher also ordered Krier to pay a $750 fine and to pay restitution to the victims.
Hill County Attorney Gina Dahl said that, while she understands Boucher’s reasons for the sentence, she doesn’t agree with them.
“I am extremely disappointed in the sentence. I don’t believe it holds him accountable, ” she said. “It is not commensurate with the nature of the harms caused to the victims. ”
At least two victims have ongoing treatment for the injuries caused by the crash, she said. They are doing well, but have lingering effects.
Dahl said she does believe the restitution was addressed properly. Ongoing medical treatment makes restitution difficult to set, she added.
But, she said, the sentence should include punishment, as well as deterrence, and added that she doesn’t believe community supervision by probation and parole is sufficient deterrence.
“Until our courts start handing out sentences with some kind of deterrent effect, these kinds of drinking and driving offenses will continue to happen, ” Dahl said.
Krier, born in 1987, struck three pedestrians who were about to get into a vehicle parked outside of a Main Street tavern.
The victims were taken to Northern Montana Hospital. While en route to the hospital, a Havre police officer saw Krier’s vehicle stuck in a snowbank.
When the police interviewed Krier, he told them he had taken a cab home from a local tavern, leaving his car parked at the tavern with the keys in it.
After police officers confronted him about inconsistencies in his story, he admitted that he had driven home from another bar and struck someone while driving. He said he panicked, and admitted trying to wipe blood off the hood of his vehicle.
Under the agreement, Krier pleaded guilty March 11 to felony counts of criminal endangerment and tampering with evidence, two misdemeanor counts of negligent vehicular assault and misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence of intoxicants and failing to stop at the scene of an accident.
Another misdemeanor count of negligent vehicular assault and misdemeanor counts of failure to give notice of an accident, reckless driving and obstructing a peace officer were dismissed under the deal.
The sentencing hearing was continued from its original date, May 5, when Krier’s attorney, Daniel Minnis, objected to having an open-ended restitution and to affidavits, filed at that hearing in support of the restitution request, which Minnis said lacked details.