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Golden Spike fight leads to felony assault charges


A fight in the parking lot of the Golden Spike on April 23 has, as of Monday, led to a felony aggravated assault charge against E-1 Towing co-owner Kenneth Erickson.

County Attorney Gina Dahl filed a request to file the charges, which Judge Brian Boucher approved on Monday afternoon. Charges were filed this morning.

Police Chief Jerry Nystrom said the week after the incident that the police department and Dahl were waiting to see what would happen to the victim, Gene Johnson.

On the night of the fight, Johnson was taken immediately to Northern Montana Hospital from the Golden Spike.

He was later transferred to the Intensive Care Unit in the Benefis Hospital in Great Falls, where he stayed in critical condition for at least a week after his arrival.

The charging document says Johnson sustained "significant injuries including skull fractures, seizures and convulsions. Johnson was admitted to the hospital and had surgery to remove a portion of his skull in order to reduce swelling to his brain. "

This morning, he is still at Benefis, but is listed in good condition.

Erickson said shortly after the incident that he was only acting in self-defense, that Johnson was threatening him.

According to the document, he told an officer that "Johnson had been harassing him, and they began to argue. Erickson stated that Johnson pushed him and he pushed Johnson back which caused him to trip, fall and strike his head.

"This was contrary to all of the witnesses' statements, " the police report read.

The report states that several witnesses told officers that Erickson and Johnson were arguing when Johnson poked Erickson.

From there, it escalated until Erickson punched Johnson in the face, which knocked him out, and he fell head first into the pavement.

When officers arrived, the report says a crowd had surrounded Johnson, as a pool of blood spread from his head across the parking lot.

Erickson could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 for the assault.


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