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Accused squatter in property near Montana 40 takes plea deal

by DERRICK PERKINS
Hagadone News Network | May 17, 2023 1:00 AM

A woman who told authorities that the house they allegedly caught her squatting in belonged to her has struck a plea deal with prosecutors.

Ashley Katherine Coil, 37, initially faced a single felony count of burglary after her arrest in October 2022 and pleaded not guilty to the charge in Flathead County District Court in December of that year. In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors amended the charge to felony mischief, according to the terms of the plea deal.

They also plan on recommending she receive a five-year deferred sentence and pay $2,500 in restitution as part of the agreement.

Coil inked the deal on April 27 and changed her plea in district court that same day. Her sentencing before Judge Danni Coffman is set for June 1.

Authorities began investigating Coil after a caretaker of a property near Montana 40 reported seeing lights on in a home that should have sat empty, court documents said. The caretaker also told authorities he spotted two individuals leave the property with what looked like a bottle of alcohol, according to court documents.

Deputies with the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office caught up with the man and woman, later identified as Coil, nearby with the bottle. Coil allegedly told them she and her friend had left what she described as her property.

Authorities returned Coil to the home, which she insisted belonged to her, court documents said. A check of property records, though, showed a different owner. They contacted the listed owner and searched the home, finding signs that people had lived in it for several days, including open bottles of alcohol, court documents said.

Coil continued to argue the home belonged to her even as she was booked into the Flathead County Detention Center, court documents said.

The man accompanying Coil allegedly told officers that she had invited him over to the house several nights prior and told him she owned the property.

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