September, 22 2017

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Montana Wrestler Sentenced to Juvenile Boot Camp

Three-time Class A state wrestling champion Steven Brawley will go to Montana Department of correction’s “boot camp” for several admitted violations of his probation.

The 21-year-old also received a continuation of his six-year deferral of sentence for negligent vehicular homicide.

His probation was not revoked Thursday by Ravalli County District Court Judge James Haynes.

If probation had been revoked, Brawley could have been sentenced to as much as 20 years in prison for the underlying crime.

The underlying events happened in June 2005, when an intoxicated Brawley drove away from a large party and swerved into the vehicle in which Bo Storms was a passenger. The collision killed Storms. Brawley was not the only one leaving a graduation party in the Willow Creek area that night too drunk to drive. But he was the one who lost control of his vehicle and took another man’s life.

The sentence issued Thursday requires Brawley to attend and successfully complete boot camp, formally the Treasure State Correctional Center.

The boot camp is “a 60-bed men’s facility based on a military format of discipline and treatment (boot camp). The 90- to 120-day incarceration in the boot camp includes anger management classes, substance abuse treatment, cognitive principle restructuring and academics. Twenty-six employees manage this program, with 16 of these positions listed as drill instructors.

As part of the plea agreement in the case, Brawley admitted to some of the probation violations that the county had alleged against him, and the county dropped other allegations.

He admitted to not reporting to his Idaho probation officer from April 2007 to July 2007, while he was in that state, and not reporting to his Montana probation officer since July 2007, when he returned to this state. He also admitted to not having obtained a mental health evaluation as ordered.

Brawley said he understood from the probation officer that obtaining a mental health evaluation was something that he should do it because it was “in my best interests.” He said he thought, at the time, that it was optional, but that he now understands it is required of him.

After some discussion with the defendant that did not resolve the issue of where the confusion originated, Haynes said he was trying to “figure out if (Brawley) is trying to shift responsibility to his probation officer or taking responsibility.”

“I was responsible, your honor,” Brawley said.

If Brawley successfully completes boot camp, he will be able to petition the court for a shortening of his sentence deferral period. At the end of that period, if he meets all the requirements of him and breaks no laws, he will never have been sentenced and not have a sentence on his record. Exactly when he might be able by law to seek the shortening of the deferral period was not clear because the minimum length of that period was not clear. After defense counsel Nick Miller raised that question, Haynes opened his statute book, saying, “Wandering through Title 46 is always an adventure.”

Deputy County Attorney Bill Fulbright was clear on a different point.

“If he does not successfully complete boot camp we’ll come back to revoke” the deferral of sentence, he said.

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