Defendant changes recommendations, attacks attorney, avoids responsibility
A Havre woman accused of trying to shoot her husband with his own gun will wait at least four more days to hear her sentence.
After issues in the presentence investigation report for Cindy R. Stidham, born in 1966, were discussed in a sentencing hearing today, her attorney, Public Defender Thomas Schoenleben, asked for a delay including possibly her discussing with another attorney complaints she made about him.
State District Judge Dan Boucher rescheduled the hearing to Friday after noting that the PSI report contained discrepancies in both her accepting her guilt and in the sentence she is recommending.
“It appears to me that Miss Stidham has taken the position that she is not in fact guilty, at least not of the offenses set in (the 2013 case),” Boucher said.
Schoenleben, after conferring with Stidham, said she did not wish to change her plea of no contest.
Hill County Attorney Gina Dahl said during the February change-of-plea hearing that the state was willing to accept a no contest plea, indicating the defendant is not admitting guilt but admitting the state had evidence to convict, because Stidham could not recall what actually happened due to her being under the influence of drugs or alcohol that morning.
Stidham originally was arrested on a charge of attempted murder for assaulting her husband, Randy Stidham, the morning of June 20 in the building that houses his business and residence. Cindy Stidham struggled with him and with their daughters before leaving the scene.
Randy Stidham told officers when he picked up the gun he saw that it had jammed. If she had come with his automatic instead of his .22 caliber pistol, he would have been shot, he said.
When law enforcement arrested Stidham at her North Havre residence, they also charged her with possession of drugs and paraphernalia.
Stidham faced four petitions to revoke her release on bond before pleading guilty to the 2013 charge and another charge of possession of methamphetamine filed when officers found her at a local tavern, apparently with her husband.
Previous charges repeatedly said she was violating no contact orders as well as requirements to not be in bars and to not be drinking by going out drinking with her husband.
Schoenleben said despite the comments Stidham made to investigators about her guilt, she would continue her plea and move to sentencing.
PSI reports are not open to the public.
Boucher then noted that Stidham also appeared to be making a different sentence recommendation than agreed to in the plea agreement, although the agreement said both sides would make the same recommendation.
In the agreement, Dahl recommended Stidham be sentenced to 10-years with eight suspended on the assault charge, a six-month sentence on the partner assault and a five year suspended sentence on the drug charge.
Boucher did not say how Stidham’s preferred sentence discussed in the PSI report differed from the state’s.
Schoenleben said Stidham was, in the hearing, indicating conflicting opinions to him, then said that Stidham also had complained to the investigator about his competency in representing her. It might be best to have another attorney discuss those concerns with her, he said.
“I wouldn’t want to give the court any indication of impropriety or wrongdoing,” he said. “… Perhaps if she spoke with another attorney she could clarify those questions.”
“It was my understanding and my intention to abide by this agreement today,” he added.
After conferring with the probation and parole officer about scheduling, Boucher reset the sentencing on both cases for 9 a.m. Friday.
“At which point Miss Stidham either in this deal or she’s not, and the state is going to be given a fair opportunity to determine whether they want to scrap the whole thing or make a separate recommendation,” Boucher said.