During her weekly crime report on Friday, Missoula County Prosecutor Kirsten Pabst told KGVO’s Talk Back audience that homicides have more than doubled in recent years.
“From a general point of view, crime has increased in number and severity,” Pabst said. “A good indicator of severity is that we charged approximately 10 homicides. I say approximately because some were charged with manslaughter. Some involve the death of a suspect, but as a group, we charged 10 of those cases. Compared to the previous year, we only charged five and the previous couple of years only four each year, so that’s more than double what we normally see in the most violent offences.”
Pabst said the pandemic has slowed down the justice system, creating a backlog of cases.
“The numbers don’t necessarily reflect all of that because of the buildup that we’re experiencing in part due to COVID,” he said. “The pandemic and the delays it has caused in the judicial system for a while there, the process had been stopped in its tracks. Little by little, one by one, we work our way through those cases and trials and get back up to speed, but it will be a while before business is normal as we know it.”
Pabst said there were only eight felony charges this week, closely mirroring last week.
“Two of the defendants we charged with various crimes including robbery, robbery, assault on a law enforcement officer, criminal endangerment in that case the CO defendant and defendant allegedly stole a truck from a woman; stole some Town Pump cigarettes; robbed a victim at gunpoint in the alley outside of Plonk,” he said. “They fled and were located by the police, where they allegedly rammed a police car. The stolen car had three dogs inside and luckily they were safely returned to their owner.”
Following that incident, a Missoula police patrol vehicle was struck by a train, but no injuries were reported.
Pabst continued with the weekly crime report.
“There were two robberies,” he said. “One was in a retail store and the other was in a hotel. The defendant allegedly worked there and used a key card to enter guest rooms, stealing items from inside. There was a new case of arson. In that case, the defendant allegedly set fire to a building and a car. And then there was an additional staff. In that case, the defendant was at a house party and allegedly stole jewelry and a charging station from inside the residence. And then there was a new drug case involving the possession of a full syringe and a bag of syringes, as well as some methamphetamine.”
Pabst said the full annual crime report for 2021 will be ready next week.
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