Missoula Crime Report: 20 New Cases and Another Hung Jury
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The Missoula County Attorney’s Office charged 20 new criminal complaints this week, which is five less than last week and still higher than the weekly average. Chief Deputy County Attorney Matt Jennings explains.
“We are looking at about six violent felonies this week and the rest are non-violent,” Jennings said. “Those include endangerment crimes, property crimes, drug crimes, and administrative crimes. As I report every week, fentanyl is the new plague in our community on top of meth. We are seeing less heroin. We had three drug crimes. We had three administrative crimes and this week those were mostly failure to register as sex or violent offenders.”
According to Jennings, they also had four property crimes this week.
“One of the things that we are seeing a little bit of an increase in is a lot of embezzlements or more sophisticated internet and financial crimes where people scam somebody,” Jennings said. “We take those really seriously because they sometimes prey on the elderly or those that are a little bit less sophisticated and can be really devastating to their lives. We had four endangerment crimes. Those are usually involving alcohol and driving in a manner that is causing a danger to other people on the road or sometimes children in vehicles, which were some of the circumstances this week.”
Of the six violent crimes this week, Jennings said there were three crimes that involved family violence, two crimes of non-family violence, and one case of sexual assault.
“I wanted to highlight that very briefly because another thing that we are observing in our community is some children being preyed upon through online applications of adults contacting them for extremely inappropriate things,” Jennings said. “I just encourage parents to find ways to monitor some of their children’s online activity, to make sure that they are not engaging in risky or dangerous behavior with adults or things that are illegal, and find ways to protect them before these crimes occur. If they do occur, we are going to take them to the end because we are always trying to protect our children.”
In addition to the new cases, Jennings said there was a jury trial this week that involved an assault on a minor.
“The jury was hung and that means that those 12 individuals that were tasked with deciding whether someone was guilty or innocent weren't able to reach a resolution,” Jennings said. “That is pretty unusual, but what makes it more unusual is that it is the second hung jury that we have had in about a month. I can’t really remember the last time that we had one, but they are relatively uncommon. It is a difficult task for jurors. We have them determining the fate of somebody and they often take that weight and responsibility very heavily.”
Jennings said they use those hung jury situations as an opportunity for feedback and to see if they are serving the community in the best way that they can.