The Missoula County Attorney’s Office has been working through a number of criminal complaints this week, including two major cases. Matt Jennings, Chief Deputy County Attorney, provided details of this week’s crime report to KGVO news.

“2020 is off to a busy start for law enforcement and the Missoula County Attorney’s Office. This week we charged 16 new criminal complaints. Of those 16, seven of them were violent crimes. That included three crimes of family violence and four crimes of non-family violence,” Jennings reported. “We had two crimes that we call endangerment crimes, and those were a child criminal endangerment and a DUI fourth, and obviously those involve people usually under the intoxication of drugs or alcohol and driving in their vehicle. We had two property crimes, and then we had four felony drug crimes and one administrative crime.”

One of the major cases that the Attorney’s Office has been working through this week was the “drug rip” gone wrong on January 1, which resulted in the death of 18-year-old Benjamin Mousso after sustaining stab wounds.

“Obviously any time somebody loses their life, that’s a tragedy our community wants to avoid,” Jennings said about the incident. “It was a difficult case, trying to understand the circumstances of what exactly went on. Ultimately, three of the individuals involved were charged with crimes, but after extensive work, homicide was not one of the charges.”

Defendant 18-year-old Joshua Paniagua is charged with criminal distribution of dangerous drugs, tampering with or altering physical evidence, and privacy in communication. A second individual, Bridger Christensen, is charged with conspiracy to commit robbery. A third individual under the age of 18 will face charges in youth court. A court date for hearings has not yet been set.

The second major case processed this week was a home invasion that included sexual assault towards a young child. Jennings spoke about this case as well.

“The home invasion was very frightening in our community, but I just want to give a shout-out to both the homeowners, the victims of that offense; to law enforcement and their response; and then to our office, responding to such a scary situation involving someone entering a home and assaulting a child, something that we all fear. We’re going to do everything that we can to make sure that we prosecute that case to the fullest extent of the law.”

The defendant, 25-year-old Dirus Jim, is charged with felony burglary, felony sexual assault, and animal cruelty. His next hearing is set for January 27.

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