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20th Judicial District Court News

by BERL TISKUS
Reporter | May 4, 2023 12:00 AM

Webster sentence deferred again

In a revocation hearing on April 27, Judge Deborah “Kim” Christopher re-deferred Lennie Olivia Webster’s three-year sentence for felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute, and ordered her to complete a chemical dependency evaluation. Webster must serve 121 days in jail, was given credit for 121 days served, and will be placed under supervision of the Montana Department of Corrections.

Webster’s case stems from Jan 29, 2019, when KwaTuqNuk Resort and Casino Security called the Polson Police because Webster was sleeping in her car, which was running, and security had a hard time waking her up. When she did wake up, her speech was slurred and her eyes were droopy.

Webster told the officer she had been drinking and had taken medication. She consented to a search, and the officer found two glass pipes, two unidentified pills, and two syringes. Webster told the officer the syringes were from the last time she “slammed,” or used intravenous drugs. She added that she had used muscle relaxants for which she didn’t have a prescription.

The officer got a warrant and searched Webster’s bag and located a large baggie in which there was a digital scale, and baggies of methamphetamine. Messages on her phone contained discussions about purchasing and selling drugs on behalf of her suppliers.

Webster was charged with felony criminal possession with intent to distribute, and received a deferred sentence for three years on Feb. 11, 2021. In August 2021, a petition to revoke her sentence was filed, with addendums added on March 23, 2022, and again April 13, 2022.

Heppler receives deferred sentences on drug possession, theft

On April 27, Judge Christopher sentenced Randy Joel Heppler on two cases. For felony possession of dangerous drugs, Heppler was sentenced to two years in jail, and for felony theft of property exceeding $5,000, he was sentenced to three years jail for a total of five years for both cases. All jail time but 189 days was suspended, and Heppler was given credit for 189 days served in jail.

Top priority was for Heppler to pay $1,500 restitution to the victim, his grandfather.

The drug charge stems from when Heppler was arrested Aug. 7, 2021. An Arlee citizen called 911 to report Heppler was on a porch “yelling at himself and hitting himself.” Law enforcement officers found a $20 bill, partially covered with a white substance, on Heppler.

The Montana State Crime Laboratory identified the substance as methamphetamine.

In the second case on Dec. 5, 2021, Heppler stole a 1992 Chevrolet pickup in Arlee, along with several firearms and ammunition. The pickup was found on Dec. 6, 2021, in Missoula, but without the firearms and ammunition.

The pickup was stolen again on Dec. 8 and was located on Hwy. 93 on the same day. Heppler was in the vehicle and one of the missing guns was also in the pickup. The victim identified the gun as his and said he had not given Heppler permission to take the pickup, the firearms, or the ammunition. Heppler was charged with felony theft of property exceeding $5,000.

Trial date set for Burland on felony drug possession

Denisse Shawnell Burland, 72, of Polson, appeared in Judge Christopher’s court on April 27 to face a charge of felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs.

The charge stems from an Oct. 19, 2019, call to law enforcement from KwaTaqNuk Resort security personnel, who recognized a person with an outstanding probation warrant in the casino. After confirming this information with the probation officer, the law enforcement officer observed the man driving a vehicle and trying to leave the casino. After stopping the vehicle, he ran, refusing the officer’s orders to stop and show the officer his hands. Instead he kept his hands in his jacket pockets and walked away. He also threw a baggie of methamphetamine under a nearby parked vehicle.

Eventually the police officers detained the man, who had a knife in his pocket. His probation officer requested a search of the vehicle. Burland was a passenger in the vehicle and refused to let officers search her bag, saying there was something in it.

An officer saw a syringe with a BandAid on it protruding from the bag and seized it. After Burland was read her Miranda rights, she told police she had two baggies of methamphetamine that she purchased from the vehicle driver.

Officers found the baggie the perpetrator had pitched under a vehicle, and it matched Burland’s baggie. Both were sent to the Montana State Crime Lab and identified as containing methamphetamine.

Burland’s failure to make court appearances caused a Sept.3, 2020 warrant to be issued for her arrest, and it was served on her on April 12, 2023.

An omnibus hearing is scheduled for Sept. 21 with a jury trial slated for Nov. 27, 2023.