Just over a week ago, 43 year-old Eugene Statelen was sentenced to eight years with the Department of Corrections with five years suspended on charges of assault with a weapon and assault on a peace officer.

On December 31, 2014, Statelen was involved in a drunken dispute with his wife, and when Missoula County Sheriff's deputies responded, Statelen attempted to run them down with his vehicle. Captain Tony Rio shot Statelen in the head and the arm, and the shooting was ruled to be justifiable.

The unusual part of Statelen's case is that his sentence was not arrived at by a judge or a jury, but was the result of the first ever use of a new criminal mediation program through the Missoula County Attorney's office.

County Attorney Kirsten Pabst said the Criminal Mediation Initiative had been passed in 2009 by the Montana legislature, but had never been used in Missoula.

"Basically, it requires the consent of both parties," Pabst said. "It requires an open mind to come and sit at the table to discuss ways to resolve a case. The Statelen case was essentially at a standstill and I got together with Mr. Statelen's attorney to see if it would be worth a try, and it was successful. Captain Tony Rio, the officer who was the victim when Statelen tried to run him down with his vehicle, was really involved with me in the mediation process. The two parties were in separate rooms, and the mediator went back and forth and eventually came to a settlement for the sentencing."

Pabst said Statelen has been placed in the intensive supervision program, which is not necessarily incarceration, but can be at any time,

"Mr. Statelen is considered to be an inmate in the eyes of the Department of Corrections," Pabst said.

At his sentencing hearing on October 5, District Judge Robert L. 'Dusty' Deschamps said Statelen 'got a screaming deal' in his sentence.


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