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This Hour: Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment

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Judge hears arguments over 2011 marijuana law

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The medical marijuana industry continues its efforts to overturn restrictions in a 2011 law that sought to rein in the number of providers and users.

Bozeman attorney Jim Goetz argued in District Court in Helena on Tuesday that even though the restrictions have been blocked by the court for almost three years, the law is still curbing the abuses the Legislature sought to address.

Lee Newspapers of Montana reports lawyers for the state argued that District Judge James Reynolds should make permanent the ban on the commercial sale of marijuana and limit each provider to three patients.

Reynolds initially blocked four provisions from the 2011 law from taking effect, but the Montana Supreme Court overruled him in September 2012. Tuesday's arguments came after the Supreme Court returned the case to Reynolds for further review.


Groups criticize governor over forest priorities

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Some conservationists are miffed they weren't consulted before Gov. Steve Bullock identified 5.1 million acres of national forest land as top restoration priorities.

Bullock announced the nominations this month for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to consider increasing the pace and scale of restoration efforts.

The Great Falls Tribune reports some groups criticized the governor for a lack of public participation in the process.

Matthew Koehler of Wildwest Institute says the decisions were based on the recommendations of a group hand-selected by the governor's office and Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

The group met five times with no public notice or meeting records.

Bullock spokesman Dave Parker says the deadline to make the nominations was short and there will be future opportunities for the public to weigh in.


Man charged with aiding escape arrested

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) - A Montana man charged with driving the suspect in an assault and attempted rape to Missoula after he escaped police custody in Bozeman has been arrested.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports 29-year-old William Michael Smith of Bozeman was arrested Tuesday by police in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. He remained jailed there on Wednesday.

Smith was one of five people charged Monday with obstruction of justice for aiding Kevin Briggs after his Feb. 1 escape. Briggs was arrested Feb. 21 in Portland, Ore.

Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert said Smith was in custody in Bozeman from Feb. 6 to March 20, when he was returned to Shoshone County in Idaho on a warrant alleging he violated his probation in a drug case. He was released from jail in Wallace on April 7. A $100,000 warrant was issued for Smith's arrest.


Hung jury, bartender charged with over-serving

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A Helena jury was unable to reach a verdict in the case of a bartender charged with serving alcohol to an intoxicated woman who later killed two people in a drunken driving crash.

The Independent Record reports jurors did find 57-year-old William Gleed guilty of obstructing a peace officer. A Montana Highway Patrol trooper testified that Gleed told officers to check two other bars for information on the driver.

Gleed was charged under a state law that says it is illegal for anyone to sell or give alcohol to someone who is "actually, apparently, or obviously intoxicated."

Prosecutors alleged Gleed over-served 22-year-old Arielle Schescke and a man in the hours before a crash near East Helena last April that killed 51-year-old Mildred Richard and her 16-year-old granddaughter, Justine Smith.


Officials identify victim of Lolo motorcycle crash

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - Missoula County officials have released the name of a Missoula man who died in a motorcycle crash on U.S. Highway 93 near Lolo.

The sheriff's department said Wednesday that 22-year-old Samuel Forrest Fitch died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck suffered in the crash Monday night.

The Montana Highway Patrol says Fitch was speeding northbound when he entered a right-hand curve. His motorcycle crossed the yellow line, went into the median and struck a concrete barrier and a steel sign support on top of the barrier. The force of the impact broke the support. Fitch came to rest on top of the barrier.


Chief: Hand movements justified fatal shooting

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - A Montana police chief says an unarmed robbery suspect moved his hands six times in defiance of an officer's orders before the officer fatally shot him during a traffic stop.

Billings Police Chief Rich St. John said Wednesday the officer's decision to shoot 38-year-old Richard Ramirez three times was justified.

St. John says a search of the car in which Ramirez was a passenger found drug paraphernalia but no weapons.

Authorities have not yet released the name of the officer involved in Monday's shooting because of general threats against law enforcement posted on social media.

Adding to the concern, St. John says two of the deceased's brothers are wanted on felony charges.

Ramirez is the fifth person shot and killed by law enforcement in Billings in two years.


Havre man killed, 2 injured in crash near Harlem

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A 32-year-old Havre man died and two people were injured in a rollover crash just north of Harlem.

The Montana Highway Patrol says the victim was driving a car southbound on Secondary Highway 241 at about 8:35 p.m. Tuesday when the car went off the road at a left-hand curve. The car went through the ditch, hit an approach and became airborne. The car landed and rolled onto its roof. None of the occupants were wearing seat belts.

The driver died at the scene. His name hasn't been released.

The crash injured a 35-year-old man from Havre and a 36-year-old woman from Harlem. They were taken to the hospital in Havre.


N. Idaho kidnapper gets life sentence

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) - A 58-year-old homeless man who kidnapped a Rathdrum woman in northern Idaho has been sentenced to life in prison.

The Coeur d'Alene Press reports that Mitchell Lee Walck received the sentence Tuesday in 1st District Court and must serve 20 years before being eligible for parole.

Walck in February pleaded guilty to robbery, second-degree kidnapping and aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.

In late 2012 Walck shot at Idaho police and eluded them during a car chase. He kidnapped a northern Idaho woman, using her vehicle, and traveled to Montana, where he released her unharmed.

He was taken into custody in North Dakota after pulling a gun on a trucker and being found hiding in a tractor-trailer.

He received a 10-year sentence for his crimes in North Dakota.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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