During her weekly crime report on Friday, Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst told KGVO’s Talk Back audience that homicides have more than doubled over the past few years.

“From a big picture standpoint, crime is up in number and in severity,” said Pabst. “One good marker of the severity is that we charged approximately 10 homicides. I say approximately because some were charged as negligent homicide. Some involve the death of a suspect, but as a group, we charged 10 of those cases. Compared to the year before, we only charged five and the couple of years before that only four each year, so we're more than double what we normally see in the most violent of violent crimes.”

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Pabst said that the pandemic has slowed the justice system to a crawl, creating a backlog of cases.

“The numbers don't necessarily reflect all of that because of the backlog that we're experiencing in part due to the COVID,” she said. “The pandemic and the delays it's caused in the court system for a while there, the process had come to a screeching halt. We're slowly kind of one by one picking our way through those cases and trials and getting caught back up but it's going to be a while before business is normal as we know it.”

Pabst said there were only eight felony charges this week, closely mirroring the past week.

“Two of those defendants that we charged with various crimes including theft, robbery assault on a peace officer criminal endangerment in that case the defendant and the CO defendant allegedly stole a truck from a woman; stole some cigarettes from Town Pump; robbed a victim at gunpoint in the alley outside of Plonk,” she said. “They fled and were located by police, where they allegedly rammed a police car. The stolen car had three dogs inside and thankfully 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 burglaries,” she said. “One was at a retail store and other was at a hotel. The defendant allegedly worked there and used a key card to enter guest rooms, stealing items inside. There was a new arson case. In that case, the defendant allegedly set a building and a car on fire. 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 of the residence. And then there was one new drug case that involves possession of a full syringe and bag of syringes as well as some methamphetamine.”

Pabst said the full annual crime report for 2021 will be ready by next week.

 

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