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Thompson St. Pierre sentenced to 10 years in Montana State Prison

 


A local man was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges stemming from a police standoff in the Bear Paw Mountains that led to an armored vehicle being brought in from Great Falls to end the standoff.

Thompson St. Pierre was sentenced in Havre Wednesday by state District Judge Kaydee Snipes Ruiz to 10 years in Montana State Prison, with no time suspended for assault with a weapon.

Snipes Ruiz designated St. Pierre as a persistent felony offender, and sentenced him to six months in the Hill County Detention Center for resisting arrest, which would have run concurrent to the assault with a weapon sentence, but the sentence had been discharged as he’d already served 225 days. Both sentences will run concurrent with pending sentences on federal charges.

Snipes Ruiz waived all fees, fines, and surcharges, saying Thompson has been found indigent and would be unable to pay during his incarceration.

This sentencing comes after a two-day bench trial Jan. 16 and 17, which found St. Pierre guilty of both charges.

A court document said that July 24 at about 5 p.m., Hill County Sheriff’s Office was notified that Rocky Boy police were in pursuit of a car on Sucker Creek Road.

The car, in which St. Pierre was a passenger, led Rocky Boy Police officers, who knew he had a federal warrant issued for his arrest, on a chase starting on the reservation and ending on Shambo Road. After stopping their vehicle the driver, Sabrina Potter, and St. Pierre fled on foot. The driver was taken into custody, but St. Pierre hid into some dense brush east of the road.

The Rocky Boy officers, along with Hill County sheriff’s deputies, searched the brush until the Rocky Boy officers found and confronted St. Pierre, who was holding a snub nose revolver in his right hand up to officers and said, “Do you want to go home?” the document said.

The Rocky Boy officers retreated from St. Pierre, and formed a perimeter.

Over the next several hours officers from numerous agencies came to assist, including the Rocky Boy Police Department, Montana Highway Patrol, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, U.S. Border Patrol, Havre Police, FBI, Tri-Agency Task Force, Blaine County Sheriff, Great Falls Police High Risk Unit, and an armored vehicle called an MRAP.

After several attempts to flush St. Pierre out with gas, the armored vehicle entered the brush and a drone was deployed to find him. The High-Risk Unit then assembled and, using a shield, headed directly for St. Pierre. Gunshots were heard and HRU officers were observed taking hold of St. Pierre who was attempting to flee eastward out of the brush. HRU officers had to strike St. Pierre several times before they were able to get handcuffs on him, the document said.

In the sentencing hearing Tuesday, the prosecution and defense made their final arguments.

The prosecution argued that St. Pierre was clearly a danger to law enforcement and the community. They said this was his fifth felony as an adult and his third violent felony as an adult.

The state recommended 15 years in prison with five suspended for the first count, and six months for the second.

The defense argued that St. Pierre was off his medication at the time of this incident and that his actions were influenced by this. They said that because both of his previous violent felonies took place when he was 20 and 21 years old, respectively, that his development since then should be taken into account by the court.

They also said that St. Pierre did not have a gun as officers allege during this incident and that no gun was found on him, or at the scene. The defense said that he should receive five years with all suspended.

The prosecution replied that because the court had found beyond a reasonable doubt that St. Pierre did commit assault with a weapon that the defense’s argument was baseless, and that their recommendation stands.

St. Pierre told the court he wanted to show that he takes responsibility for his actions, that he shouldn’t have stopped taking his medication, and that he did not have a weapon. He said he was afraid for his life when he fled officers during the incident.

When issuing the sentence, Snipes Ruiz said she believes it would be a misrepresentation to say that the reason everyone was in the court was that the defendant hid in some brush. She said that one of the goals of the criminal justice system is rehabilitation and that the parole board should have the opportunity to determine when and if St. Pierre is ready to be considered for parole.

 

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