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  • Hamilton man could face death penalty in rape, kidnapping case

    Published On: Mar 05 2015 11:00:34 AM MST   Updated On: Mar 05 2015 03:50:13 PM MST
    Byron Craig Hall
    HAMILTON, Mont. -

    A Ravalli County district court judge says a Hamilton man could face the death penalty in a rape and kidnapping case.

    Byron Craig Hall has pleaded not guilty to charges he repeatedly raped a 17-year-old girl while injecting her with methamphetamines at her home last month. Court records say the girl's infant child was in the home at the time.

    Bail for Hall was continued at $750,000.

  • Defendant curses judge, spits at public defender in Ravalli Co.

    Published On: Mar 05 2015 07:08:27 PM MST   Updated On: Mar 05 2015 08:37:23 PM MST
    HAMILTON, Mont. -

    In Ravalli County District Court Thursday, the defendant in a probation revocation hearing caused a disturbance.

    Before the hearing, Jeffory Lafield cursed at lawyers and spit at a public defender. He was removed from court, then later brought back in, where he was acting as his own attorney.

    He then cursed at the judge and was removed from the courtroom again.

    The Stevensville man was convicted of a fourth DUI, and assaulting a peace officer in Ravalli County, and faced identical charges in Missoula County.

    In the end, his probation was revoked, and he was sentenced to five years in prison.

  • Hungry Horse toddler recovering from dog attack

    Published On: Mar 05 2015 12:37:50 PM MST   Updated On: Mar 05 2015 06:56:26 PM MST
    HUNGRY HORSE, Mont. -

    A two year old boy is in the hospital recovering after being attacked by a dog. The toddler was airlifted to Kalispell Regional Medical Center with serious injuries, and he underwent surgery Wednesday.

    The incident happened on Wednesday in Hungry Horse, when a neighbor’s Labrador/Hound mix bit the boy in the face. It happened behind closed doors.

    The incident is still under investigation and it is still not clear why the dog attacked the boy.

    NBC Montana found out there are ordinances in place to prevent attacks like this.

    "Our animal control officers are very busy often times busier than our deputies and they're busy as well so it is a growing concern to us here in the Flathead," said Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry.

    Curry says animal wardens respond to a large number of calls regarding vicious dogs and also dogs at large.

    In a case like this, when a dog bites a person, there can be serious consequences.

    "Anytime there’s a human bite we have to quarantine the dog for ten days, even if they're proven to be current on their rabies, just to make sure they don't develop symptoms," said Cliff Bennett, Flathead County Animal Shelter Director.

    Bennett says dogs usually bite people because the animal was approached wrong, or was caught off guard. He also says the dogs who attack people aren’t always the most vicious looking.

    "Some studies show that there’s more dog bites from Labrador Retrievers than any particular breed and that's probably because there’s a lot of Labrador Retrievers out there," said Bennett.

    Once a dog does attack, to a certain extent, it could be legally considered a vicious dog.

    “Kalispell has a vicious dog ordinance in place that a lot of people may not know about. If your dog has bitten someone or has attacked another dog, they've got remedies where you have to post the bond and have certain insurance levels and post a sign that you have a vicious dog," said Bennett.

    It’s a case by case basis as to whether or not the animal shelter decides to put a dog down because of an attack. They don’t do it often in the Flathead. Last year, out of 1,100 dogs that came into the shelter only about 20 were euthanized.

    “People just need to remember that dogs, we love them but they’re an animal. You just can’t expect them to act rationally and reasonably every minute of their life," Bennett said.

    Even though this young boy was attacked behind closed doors, we’re told most attacks involve dogs running at large. That’s why Flathead County has an ordinance in place requiring dogs to be on leashes.

  • Belgrade police warn residents of identity theft, credit card fraud

    Published On: Mar 05 2015 08:35:32 PM MST   Updated On: Mar 05 2015 08:41:21 PM MST
    Belgrade police warn residents of identity theft and credit card fraud
    BOZEMAN, Mont. -

    Belgrade police are investigating a string of identity thefts and fraud cases across town, and they're warning residents to be alert.

    Detectives said Belgrade residents are reporting credit cards taken out in their name and thousands of dollars charged. Now they're urging residents to take steps to protect themselves.

    Belgrade resident Thomas Simonsen knows what it's like to be a victim of identify theft.

    "My first reaction was to be angry and upset. It's a much-used term, but you do feel violated," said Simonsen.

    He said his credit card information was stolen a couple years ago.

    Lately a number of Belgrade residents have been going through the same thing. Detective Dustin Lensing has been busy investigating dozens of cases of credit card fraud.

    "They've been denied credit card applications without any knowledge of having filed credit cards, and at least a couple cases I do believe credit cards were taken out, charges were made using that person's identity," said Lensing.

    Those charges, he said, racked up to thousands of dollars in some cases. Lensing said the scammers have also been filing fake income tax returns to get a check from the state and federal government.

    He said they noticed complaints were coming from one area of town, which led them to suspect someone has been stealing mail.

    "People have stand-alone mailboxes on the curbside which are unsecured," said Lensing.

    If you have an easily accessible mailbox, police suggest you put a lock on it or go to the post office and get a P.O. box.

    "Don't leave your mail sitting in your mailbox for a long time, for one thing. It's easier for carriers and it also makes it safer for you," said Belgrade resident Don Cheney.

    Cheney carries mail for the U.S. Postal Service in Belgrade. He said they best way to protect yourself from mail thieves is to watch your credit and watch your neighborhood.

    "We kind of keep an eye on everybody here, when they're gone, and on their mailboxes," said Cheney.

    When it comes to Simonsen, after what he went through, he said he doesn't mess around when it comes to protecting his information and his money.

    "I shred anything that's got my name, telephone number, or any reference to my address, and I just try to be very careful about what I use my credit card for," he said.

    Lensing said reports are now filtering in from other areas of town as well, and they are following all leads to track down the suspects.

    To protect yourself from identity theft, officials say to keep an eye on your credit card statement for any charges you didn't make, check your mail regularly, lock your mailbox or get a box at the post office, and before you throw mail away, shred everything with your name and personal information on it.

  • Coram couple sued on behalf of local fire department

    Published On: Mar 05 2015 06:41:15 PM MST   Updated On: Mar 05 2015 11:25:23 PM MST
    CORAM, Mont. -

    Due to a property mix-up, the Coram-West Glacier Volunteer Fire Department has been using land that is in someone else's name. Now they want the deed transferred back to them.

    The Flathead County Attorney's office filed a lawsuit on behalf of the fire department against two Coram residents. According to the lawsuit, which was issued in January, Tod and Laura Fox purchased three parcels of land from the fire department in 2003.

    It turns out that the warranty deed included a fourth piece of land -- a small lot on Fehlberg Lane that the fire department had no intention of selling.

    Officials say that the Coram-West Glacier Volunteer Fire Department hadn't given anyone permission to change the notation that added the fourth lot to the deed. A small firehouse rests on the property. The fire department still uses it today to serve the community.

    Tod Fox used to be the pastor at the Canyon Community Church, just up the road from the land that's in dispute.

    "You know, they use the building," said current Canyon Community Church Pastor Ken Ainsworth. "When the alarm goes off, our volunteers rally there and take the equipment to wherever it needs to be."

    Officials at the County Attorney's office said that the ownership of the property has been a matter of discussion for the past few years. They plan to continue to try and reach a compromise.

    "We'll have conversations with Mr. Fox's attorney going forward, in hopes of reaching a resolution," said Deputy County Attorney Caitlin Overland. "But at this point, the fire department wants to reclaim ownership of this piece of property so it's rightfully in their name."

    NBC Montana has made several attempts to get in touch with Tod and Laura Fox.

    "I hope that it will be resolved amicably, without too much trouble," said Ainsworth. "I know Pastor Fox did some great work here for over 30 years, and certainly, we support our fire department."

    Officials say that more discussion is in order before they'll know whether the lawsuit will make it to court.

  • Brooke's First Alert Video Forecast

    Published On: Mar 05 2015 09:37:01 AM MST   Updated On: Mar 05 2015 09:37:17 AM MST

    Clear to partly cloudy today with highs in the 40s.  Much warmer for the weekend!

  • Mark Heyka's First Alert Video Forecast

    Published On: Mar 05 2015 05:57:29 PM MST

    Beautiful spring like weather will prevail through most of the next week across western Montana.