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Gallatin Co. man sentenced for multi-county crime spree

By Jordan Moore, KTVM Reporter, jmoore@ktvm.com
Published On: Mar 18 2014 06:30:12 PM MDT
Updated On: Mar 18 2014 06:35:10 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

A Gallatin County man who went on a multi-county crime spree and led authorities on a manhunt last spring was sentenced on Tuesday.

Matthew Brandemihl, 32, won't go to prison -- instead he will be the newest member of Gallatin County's Treatment Court.

In 2013 prosecutors accused him of burglarizing a home, stealing three vehicles, and leading police on a high-speed chase across two counties. In the end he pleaded guilty to two felonies and a misdemeanor.

We wanted to learn more about treatment court, a program meant to help convicts addicted to alcohol and drugs change both their attitudes and behavior.

Director of Court Services Steve Ette tells us the program only accepts 30 people at a time and is a program that got started in 1999.

"When you enter treatment court, the expectation is you are going to change your lifestyle," Ette.

Over the last 15 years they have screened more than 340 applicants, and of that, 238 were accepted. Ette says it is a long process that starts with a team screening.

"A treatment court team which consists of a prosecutor, a defense attorney, a probation and parole officer," said Ette.

NBC Montana was in court Tuesday as a judge made Brandemihl the 28th member of this year's treatment court. Ette says in a case like Brandemihl's, it took careful consideration due to the type of crimes he is convicted of.

"Mr. Brandehmihl may not be someone who is required to register as a violent offender, but his acts were egregious in nature, and did put the community at risk," said Ette.

But sometimes it is just black and white. "A sex offender does not get into treatment court," said Ette.

We attended a treatment court graduation in December 2013. The program can make the difference for offenders with series substance abuse problems -- problems Ette explains prison wouldn't fix.

"We had a woman graduate from the treatment court program, this is the longest she has been sober since she was 14 or 15-years-old," said Ette.

What happens next is up the Brandemihl -- a clean slate, a new chance, or something else.

"If he doesn't take advantage of the opportunity presented to him at treatment court, the judge could send him directly to prison," said Ette.

We looked into how many people have actually graduated from the 18-month program. Since it began in Gallatin County in 1999, 113 have graduated. On the flip-side, 97 have been terminated from the program in the last 15 years.