Pleas Reached in Felony Rape and Animal Cruelty Cases in Missoula District Court
On Tuesday, plea bargains were completed in Missoula District Court on two felony cases, one for rape and one for animal cruelty.
33 year-old Lance Ring of Lolo reached a plea agreement with prosecutors over charges that he sexually abused a child. Chief Deputy Missoula County Attorney Jason Marks said Ring will be spending at least two decades in prison.
"Mr. Ring was sentenced yesterday in a case involving child molestation," Marks said. "He was sentenced to 25 years in the Montana State Prison with the requirement that he complete both phase one and two of sex offender treatment in the prison before becoming eligible for parole. Also, at that time, a second charge of rape pending against him was dismissed as part of the plea agreement."
IN May, 2015, Ring was charged with sexual intercourse without consent after abusing a six year-old child. On that case, he was released after posting a $50,000 bond. In May of 2016, while free on bond, Ring allegedly raped a woman in the parking lot of a local pharmacy. That charge was dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
Marks said the high-profile animal cruelty case revolved around several blowgun attacks on pets, mostly cats, in the Lolo area.
"Hayden Parker and Tucker Miller both plead guilty on Tuesday in district court to aggravated cruelty to animals, and their sentencing hearings have been set for November 1st at 3:00 p.m.," he said. "The third defendant, Matthew Breeden has not entered a guilty plea yet. He was the one who came forward and cooperated with authorities. We anticipate that he will be pleading guilty sometime in the future. His case was essentially on hold because he would have been called to testify against these other two, had they chosen to go to trial."
The blow dart attacks began in October, and over 15 different individuals reported their pets had been attacked, and turned the blow darts over to Animal Control. One witness reported that someone purchased a blowgun and several darts at Sportsman’s Warehouse. After viewing the surveillance video of the purchase at the store, it was determined that the individuals involved were Miller, Breeden and Barker.
Court records indicate the following:
“Breeden said that he and the others began to get nervous after the news of pets being darted began to spread on social media. Breeden said he and Miller took the blowgun up into the mountains, destroyed it and buried beside a dirt road. Later, Breeden led Detective David Walrod to the site where they buried the blowgun. Walrod seized the blowgun that had been chopped into pieces.”
Miller’s attorney said all three of the defendants, Miller, Breeden and Barker had received abusive communications from various individuals, so much so, that he said legal action was being considered.