By Tim Eberly
A mop, bread knife and the steel leg of a table were the weapons of choice when two Box Elder men severely beat a Great Falls man in Havre on Halloween night, Havre police say.
The two alleged assailants await arraignment while the victim, 46-year-old Stanley Wilson, is recovering from severe injuries in Benefis Health Care Hospital in Great Falls.
Curtis Stanley, 36, and Travis Standing Horn, 23, were arrested at Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation on Thursday and charged with aggravated assault and malicious intimidation, both felonies, and are being detained on $50,000 bond each in the Hill County Detention Center. Half-brothers Stanley and Standing Horn face a maximum penalty of 35 years in prison and a $55,000 fine.
Also on Thursday, police arrested Mary Ruth Demontiney, 40, of Havre in connection with the incident and charged her with tampering with physical evidence, a felony, and misdemeanor theft. She faces up to 10 years in prison and a $51,000 fine.
The day before the arrests, Wilson said, he gave acquaintances Stanley and Standing Horn a ride from Great Falls to Havre to visit family. Stanley had called Wilson last Tuesday, asking Wilson to give him a ride from Great Falls Airport to the Hi-Line. When Wilson declined, Stanley showed up at his front door with Standing Horn. So Wilson decided to give the pair a lift.
Violence erupted on the heels of a simple request by Wilson, after they had been in Havre for several hours, he said. "There wasn't any kind of argument or fight, other than to say I wanted to go back to Great Falls," said Wilson, a cook at the Crossroads Cafe in Great Falls.
Wilson doesn't remember the first punch or the last kick. He just recalls being driven around for hours in his own 1978 GMC van, and beaten repeatedly. Stanley and Standing Horn beat Wilson senseless inside the van, while they drove around drinking and visiting friends, Wilson said. If Wilson awoke or stirred, the beating commenced. At one point, Stanley made stop at the hospital to get treatment for a laceration, while Standing Horn made sure the injured Wilson did not escape the van, Wilson said.
"All I remember was getting beaten, stomped and kicked," said Wilson, who was flown by helicopter to Great Falls this weekend for further treatment. "They beat on me for hours. They just beat me up until I shut up again. They came real close to killing me."
Wilson's good deed culminated in a fractured skull, internal bleeding, a broken nose, an assortment of cracked ribs and deep lacerations on his face.
Standing Horn "just flipped out," Wilson told Havre police in an interview Friday. Standing Horn initiated the aggression while Wilson begged for Stanley to intervene, Wilson said.
"I was kind of relying on Curtis to get Travis off me," Wilson said. "I was trying to duck behind Curtis, trying to tell him to get him off me. Then Curtis pretty much joined in with him. I thought he was my friend."
Released from prison in August 2000, Standing Horn had served a one-year term for violating probation in a 1997 conviction for selling drugs. Stanley has two convictions one decade apart: In 1989, he was sentenced to four years probation after a felony theft conviction in Cascade County, and he later was convicted of misdemeanor theft in 1999.
The beating began in a secluded driveway of Stanley's relative's trailer about 10 p.m. Wednesday and continued into the night, Havre police said. The metal leg used to beat Wilson was a leg from a table he kept in the back of his van. The broom and knife were taken from the trailer, according to the criminal complaint.
Unexpectedly, the brothers' taunts turned racial, he said.
"They even said, Let's kill this n-----,' " said Wilson, who is black.
Wilson, who moved to Montana from South Carolina about 15 years ago, said he thinks the beating stopped when the van got low on gas and his attackers became too intoxicated.
At 1 a.m. Standing Horn and Stanley returned to the trailer, where they assaulted the one man Wilson said had tried to halt the violence earlier in the night, Samuel St. Marks.
St. Marks, according to the complaint, said the enraged men "decked him," threatening his life with the bread knife because he was a "half-breed."
One punch from Stanley shattered St. Mark's glasses, and he ran home, the complaint said. The malicious intimidation charges stem from the duo's alleged behavior toward St. Marks.
Left in his van overnight, Wilson woke the next morning and heard children talking at a bustop near the van. He attempted to call for help but "nobody could hear me because I didn't have the strength to yell," Wilson said.
A stranger, Wilson said, eventually drove him to the hospital. The man parked the vehicle in a secluded area and fled on foot. Corralling all the strength he could muster, Wilson exited the van and tried to crawl toward the hospital. Hospital employees spotted the swollen and blood-soaked Wilson at 8:45 a.m. Thursday.
"Some people saw me crawling trying to make it down in the parking lot," Wilson said.
Charged with tampering with evidence and theft, Demontiney took possession of Wilson's black wallet during one of Stanley and Standing Horn's stopovers at the trailer, court documents allege. Court documents also state Demontiney wiped blood off the wallet in an attempt to wipe off her fingerprints.
In an interview with police, court documents said, Demontiney said Wilson gave her the wallet and told Demontiney to get more beer.
Wilson, who admits he has a drinking problem, said he has not had any alcohol in three and a half weeks. In fact, the reason he wanted to return to Great Falls was to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting early Thursday morning, he said.
"I just want to improve and get a better life," Wilson said. "I'm not going to let those guys pull me down."