By Alan Sorensen
Sentencing for admitted murderer Reid Danell has been rescheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday. Danell had been scheduled to be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. Thursday on the two counts of deliberate homicide he pleaded guilty to on May 15.
Danell's codefendant, Jacob Gary Spang, is free on bail awaiting his sentencing which has also been moved. Originally scheduled for 9 a.m. on July 19, it is now set for 9 a.m. on July 27, Deputy Hill County Attorney Aileen Miller said this morning.
Spang was found innocent of murder in a jury trial earlier this month but guilty of three other felonies in connection with the double homicide.
Danell, 18, pleaded guilty to the two murder charges as part of a plea agreement reached with the state on May 12.
Danell admitted shooting Kristi Walker, 30, and Kevin Caplette, 30, to death during the early morning hours of an all-night party at a Walker's home in the 1200 block of Sixth Street on Sept. 16, 1999. The victims' bodies were found at the home shortly before 1 p.m. the same day.
Danell told 12th Judicial District Court Judge John Warner that he understood that by pleading guilty to the felony murder charges he forfeited his right to a trial and to any appeal of sentence.
As part of the agreement, the state declined to charge Danell with an offense in the March 11 stabbing of a fellow inmate at the Hill County Detention Center. Danell allegedly borrowed a pencil from the victim and then stabbed him in the eye. The victim was taken to a Great Falls hospital. He was returned to the Havre jail upon his recovery to await extradition out of state.
Warner did explain, however, that the prosecution does have the right to submit evidence of that assault as part of its argument concerning what sentence it feels Danell should receive.
Warner ordered a presentence investigation and told Danell that he was not bound by the plea agreement. He told Danell that Danell could be sentenced to life in prison or from 10 to 100 years on each count and that Danell could be ordered to serve the sentences consecutively. The sentences also would carry fees and surcharges.
Spang and his sister, Francine Spang, 16, were charged with the same offenses as Danell.
On June 14, a Hill County jury found Jacob Spang innocent of murder but guilty of two counts of felony intimidation. Jurors also found Spang guilty of tampering with evidence for wiping down the murder weapon and car the trio escaped in. He was found innocent of stealing the car.
Warner reduced Spang's bail from $25,000 to $10,000 and removed many of the restrictions he'd offered Spang earlier. Spang was subsequently released on the bail and remains in the Havre. He is bound by conditions that require him to remain law-abiding and refrain from the use of alcohol and drugs.
Spang also was ordered to report to officers with the Montana Department of Corrections in Havre between 8 a.m. and noon every Monday for possible urinalysis and blood tests. He also must appear in person before Hill County Dispatchers at the Justice Center or at the Hill County Attorney's Office between 8 a.m. and noon every Friday.
Spang must provide his address and phone number to the court and county attorney at all times and must not change either without prior approval. Warner added that the place where Spang lives and the person he lives with may be searched for contraband at any time.
In conclusion, Warner placed Spang under an 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew. Warner cautioned Spang that he must be at the "hospital, mortuary or your place of residence" during those hours or face jail.
Warner warned Spang that even a parking ticket could land him back in jail.
Francine Spang pleaded guilty to two juvenile charges just before the conclusion of her brother's trial. She pleaded guilty in youth court the day before to the charges of tampering with evidence and theft by accountability. The agreement, offered a couple of weeks ago by Hill County Attorney David Rice, dropped the charges of murder and intimidation by accountability that had been leveled at the girl.
Francine Spang's sentencing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. July 12.
Rice said he is seeking to have her treated as a person subject to extended juvenile jurisdiction. That would mean that she could be held in custody until she is 18 and then placed on probation until she turns 21. If she remains law-abiding and complies with the rules of probation during that time, she could be discharged. If she violates the law or rules of probation, she could be subject to imprisonment for up to five years with the potential of being incarcerated until she is 26.
Miller said Francine Spang is also free, but under conditions and in a location that Rice arranged with her attorneys. Rice was unavailable for comment this morning.