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DAMSON - Not Guilty

Havre Daily News - By Tim Leeds

August 5, 2016


It took less than one hour Thursday afternoon for a jury to find Joseph E. "Jed" Damson not guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl with a cognitive disability.

"I always believed in my client's innocence, but when you have a case like this, you always worry," Damson's attorney, Jeremy Yellin, said after his client's acquittal.

Yellin smiled and hugged Damson immediately after the deputy clerk of court read the not guilty plea, while many members of Damson's family let out a sigh of relief.

A juror who preferred to remain anonymous said the lack of evidence from the state swayed the decision. He asked why, while experts on children and sex crime convicts had been brought in, no expert testified on the specific disability the girl has?

Ex-probation officer acquitted of rape

Havre Daily News - By John Kelleher

June 22, 2015


It took a jury just a little more than a hour Friday to find Stephen Mills not guilty of rape.

Judge Kathleen Bidegaray sent jurors in for deliberations just before noon, and they returned just after 1 p.m. with the acquittal.


The verdict followed an emotional summation to the jury by Mills' attorney, Jeremy Yellin, who told jurors he was going to cry no matter what the verdict was.


"Tears of joy if you acquit him, tears of sorrow if you convict," he said.


Yellin said the victim concocted the story because she was angry at Mills, a youth probation officer, for recommending that her son be placed in a group home.

Truth is stranger than fiction

Havre Daily News - By Tim Leeds

September 24, 2008


A jury in state District Court in Havre Tuesday found a Whitefish man not guilty of a charge that he stole a vintage hot rod from a farm near Inverness. After deliberating just less than an hour-and-ahalf, after a two-day trial, the jury found Thomas J. Eisinger of Whitefish, born in 1951, not guilty of stealing a 1966 Pontiac GTO belonging to Len Schweitzer of Helena.


In his opening statement during the trial, Jeremy Yellin, Eisinger's attorney, told the jury that his client was not at fault in the taking of the vehicle he had simply been tricked. “Tom Eisinger is not a thief,” Yellin said. “As the trial progresses the notion that truth is stranger than fiction will become apparent to you “You'll see that Tom had no clue that he'd been duped,” Yellin said.

Plea deal reached for man accused of stabbing

Great Falls - Associated Press

November 9, 2007


Attorneys have worked out a plea agreement in the trial of Blair "Mickey" Little Dog, a Cut Bank man accused of stabbing an oil rig co-worker to death in the victim's Chinook hotel room.


Little Dog, who was on trial for the stabbing death of Jonathan Combs, pleaded no contest Wednesday to an amended charge of felony tampering with evidence. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with five of those suspended, Blaine County Attorney Don Ranstrom said.


Little Dog, 48, had been charged with deliberate homicide.


He has contended that he and Combs, 47, attended a party in the basement of the hotel, but that he doesn't remember what happened. He told police he was prone to alcohol blackouts.

Jurors were sequestered for several hours Wednesday as attorneys for both sides worked out the agreement.


As part of the plea deal, Little Dog took responsibility for "altering Combs' body to impair availability of forensic evidence," concealing Combs' blue jeans and underwear and washing the knife police believe was used in the killing, Ranstrom said.



Little Dog originally went to trial in May for the January 2006 death, but District Judge John McKeon declared a mistrial about halfway through.


That was after Ranstrom gave defense attorneys crime-scene photos that they had been told didn't exist.


Ranstrom said he was unaware of the photos until they were found on a police computer the night before he brought them to court.


McKeon set the new trial date at the end of a sanctions hearing.

2007 MTACDL Lawyers of the Year

Montana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

March 15, 2007


On March 13th and 14th, the Montana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers  held its annual meeting and seminar at picturesque Chico Hot Springs in Pray, Montana. Over 60 criminal defense lawyers attended the seminar which was organized by President Daniel Donovan of Great Falls.   


Donovan presented the 2007 MTACDL Lawyer of the Year awards at the dinner held in conjunction with the annual meeting.  Four criminal defense lawyers received this designation:  Lisa A. Banick of Bozeman, Joslyn M. Hunt of Helena, Jason T. Holden of Great Falls, and Jeremy S. Yellin of Havre. 

Cut Bank man accused of murdering co-worker

Chinook - Associated Press

February 15, 2006


A Cut Bank man charged with murdering his oil-rig co-worker at the Chinook Hotel last month pleaded not guilty Tuesday.


Blair Little Dog, 46, entered the plea before District Judge John McKeon in Chinook.


A trial date will be set on May 22. McKeon granted a defense request for extra time due to the nature of the crime.


On the afternoon of Jan. 21, Jonathan Combs, 47, of Cut Bank, was found dead in his hotel room with stab wounds to his neck and upper torso.


Court documents said a hotel worker discovered the body when Little Dog and his crew foreman asked for his help opening the door.


Little Dog told police he doesn’t remember what happened in the early hours of Jan. 21, after he and Combs returned together from a party in the basement of the hotel.


Squires trial results in innocent on one count, hung jury on another

The River Press

March 26, 2003

Last week’s trial on the two counts of felony theft against Carol Squires of Fort Benton finished up with the jury unable to reach a consensus on one count number two. The jury found Squires not guilty of county number one. The trial took place in Judge John Warner’s district court in Fort Benton.

The felony theft charges have to do with the operation of the Prairie Vista Manor nursing home in big Sandy, which closed in June of 2001. Squires, who was hired in August 1999 as Prairie Vista’s activities director, worked at the nursing home for nearly two years before it closed. Count one, of which Squires was found not guilty, charged that she wrote 28 improper checks from the patient trust account totaling $1,712.90 for a variety of Prairie Vista expenses. Count two, which resulted in a hung jury, charged that Squires wrote four unauthorized payroll checks to herself totaling $3,756.12.

Judge John Warner polled the jury and found that 11 jurors had voted guilty on count two and one had voted not guilty.
It is now up to the Montana attorney general’s office to decide whether to retry Squires on count two. Judge Warner set a scheduling conference for Monday, March 31, and requested the attorney general’s office to make a decision on retrying the case by that time

Last week’s trial started on Tuesday morning, March 18. After two days of testimony, the jury went into deliberation at about 3 p.m. Thursday. The jury returned to the courtroom at about 4 p.m. Friday, after around 14 hours of discussion.

The charging documents in the case said that Squires and former Prairie Vista Manor Administrator Chales Sipler explained that Sipler told Squires to write herself the additional payroll checks following a pay cut enacted by Jesse Marcel of Spokane, a co-owner of Prairie Vista. Sipler provided Squires with a letter in June of 2001 stating that as the administrator of Prairie Vista, he had the authority to instruct Squires to write herself additional payroll checks.

Sipler was found guilty of three counts of felony theft following his four-day jury trial in Fort Benton in January. Judge Warner will sentence him March 31. Sipler could face a maximum of ten years in prison and a $50,000 fine on each of the three counts.

The first of these three counts states that Sipler wrote checks for more than $21,750 from the patients’ trust fund. The second county states that Sipler diverted five of a patient’s Veteran’s Administration checks totaling $10,669 into the nursing home’s payroll/operating fund. The third count, accountability for theft, states that Sipler told Squired to write herself additional payroll checks after her pay was cut.


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