By Alan Sorensen
The Montana Supreme Court upheld two 12th Judicial District Court rulings in recent months.
On July 27, the Supreme Court ruled that Anthony Lee Montoya was correctly sentenced as a persistent felony offender on his felony burglary conviction.
On Sept. 28, Gary Teskes appeal of his burglary and theft convictions was turned down.
The sole issue on appeal in Montoyas case, according a report prepared by the State Reporter, was whether the district court properly designated Montoya a persistent felony offender based on his prior felony conviction.
Montoya pleaded guilty to three counts of felony burglary in May 1984, and was subsequently found in violation of court orders on several occasions. A bench warrant had been outstanding from December 1996 until Montoyas arrest in Hill County on Feb. 14, 1998 for burglary of a ranch house south of Havre.
A Havre jury found Montoya guilty of felony burglary on Aug. 27, 1998. On Oct. 29, Montoya was sentenced as a persistent felon. He received four years in prison for the crime and five more years as a persistent felon.
The court did find that Montoyas sentences were ordered to be served concurrently because of the substantial time between the convictions of felony offenses, and the non-violent nature of the crime.
The state reporters report said that the issue in Teskes appeal was whether the district court erred in ruling that sufficient corroborating evidence supported the testimony of Tom Peterson, a witness legally accountable for the offenses of which Teske was convicted.
A Havre jury found Teske guilty earlier this year of breaking into a home in the 500 block of Seventh Avenue on Feb. 25, 1998. Taken from the home were a satellite receiver, TV set, stereo receiver, CD changer, a CD, stereo speakers and jewelry. The items were valued at about $2,500.
State law says that a person may not be found guilty of a crime on the testimony of another person responsible or legally accountable for the same crime unless there is enough corroborating evidence to connect the defendant with the offense without the other persons testimony.
The states high court found that there was, the state reporter wrote, sufficient evidence in the record to allow a rational trier of fact to find, beyond a reasonable doubt, the essential elements of the crimes with which Teske was charged.