Flathead County attorney… A mistake?
Flathead County Attorney Travis Ahner just won a second term to lead the prosecutorial arm of our county justice system. The fact that he ran unopposed is a sad commentary on our two-party system. If he had faced an opponent, perhaps we would have a better idea of his punishment philosophies. As it is, we can only guess.
Recent high-profile cases raise serious questions about his commitment to prosecuting serious crimes, such as the following examples:
A man who confessed to rape: 20-year sentence suspended.
A woman who defrauded donors in a fake cancer scam: sentence suspended.
A man who confessed to attempted murder of his domestic partner by electrocution: sentence suspended.
In the plea bargains, his office records a conviction, but the convicted seldom serve time. Does his office ever take anything to trial, or just plea bargain?
In fact, it may. His office recently pursued an arrest warrant for a neighbor who picked up a gun to deter an enraged man who was attempting to enter the gate of his property and threatening bodily injury. The neighbor—now charged with class 2 felony—was not informed of the warrant, was arrested six weeks later at his home on a Friday (just before the November election) and spent the weekend in jail (a judicial bail hearing is not possible on weekends). He is set to stand trial this spring.
So, it seems that in Mr. Ahner’s county, defending yourself on your own property is a crime worthy of prosecution—while rape, fraud, and attempted murder are given a penalty pass. Perhaps we should have asked more questions last November.
Dan Diamond, Teakettle Mountain