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Closing arguments, deliberations to begin in Johnson trial



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Harlem Man Facing Sexual Abuse Charges
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (NMB) - A Harlem man was arraigned in state District Court in Great Falls on Monday. William Ball faces three separate charges of aggravated sexual abuse, as well as a single count of strangulation.

Prosecutors allege that in late February 2013, Ball penetrated the victim's genital area with the intent to abuse, harass and degrade her. They say that the same act occurred two more times in August 2013, as well.

They also charge that Ball strangled the victim on August 11th, 2013. Charging documents say the victim was an intimate and dating partner of Ball.

Ball pleaded not guilty to all charges. He faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for the most serious offense.

(Copyright 2014 New Media Broadcasters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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MT Colleges receive $15M Grant for Healthcare Training
HELENA, Mont. (NMB) - On Monday, the US Department of Labor announced that 15 different Montana colleges were awarded a $15 million grant to expand opportunities for Montanans to gain skills and credentials for high-paying jobs in the healthcare industry across the state.

Through the Montana HealthCARE (Creating Access to Rural Education) grant, the colleges will partner with 39 healthcare providers to improve health care training opportunities in Montana.

Governor Steve Bullock says that the health care industry is projected to see tremendous growth over the next several years, which makes this grant an ideal fit.

"Given the fact that we know that health care is going to be adding about 1,300 jobs per year until 2022, this provides the opportunity to really focus on making sure that we have that pipeline of trained and talented workers."

He adds that the money will be used for expanding training rather than improving facilities.

"It's not about building buildings. It's really about making sure that we have the curriculum in place, so essentially the training. And adding on to different training programs to meet the needs of our students."

In our area, Montana State University-Northern will receive over $647,000, while Stone Child College will take in more than $158,000.

(Copyright 2014 New Media Broadcasters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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Shane Johnson Homicide Trial Day 6
HAVRE, Mont. (NMB) - After the prosecution and defense both rested their cases on Monday in the Shane Johnson homicide trial, the jury will begin deliberations on Tuesday.

First they will receive their final instructions from state District Court Judge Dan Boucher, as well as hear closing arguments from each side.

Shane Johnson is accused of murdering his younger brother Travis Johnson on November 9th, 2013.

Stay tuned to New Media Broadcasters for the latest information as the trial heads towards its' conclusion.

UPDATE: CLOSING ARGUMENTS TO BEGIN THIS AFTERNOON

HAVRE, Mont. (NMB) - The conclusion is near in the Shane Johnson homicide trial. Closing arguments are scheduled for 12:30 PM, and the total time for arguments should take about 2 hours, which means the jury likely won't begin deliberations until late this afternoon.
Tuesday morning was spent largely fine tuning the final jury instructions. There was a lengthy discussion surrounding whether or not the defense could use "justifiable use of force" in the instructions. Essentially, the defense argued that Shane Johnson had a legitimate fear for his safety or life when he was struggling with his brother Travis over the gun.
District Judge Dan Boucher allowed the justifiable use of force into the instructions, as well as a lesser included offense of negligent homicide. If the jury cannot come to a consensus on whether or not Shane Johnson is guilty or innocent of the original charge, deliberate homicide, they can then try and reach a consensus on the lesser charge of negligent homicide.
Stay tuned to New Media Broadcasters for continuing coverage of this trial.

UPDATE: JURY DELIBERATING

After hearing closing arguments from both sides, the jury was dismissed to begin deliberations just after 2:30 PM. Stay tuned to New Media Broadcasters for an update on the jury's verdict.

UPDATE: VERDICT REACHED

Shane Johnson has been found guilty of negligent homicide.
After a 6-day trial and nearly 7 hours of deliberations, a jury found that Johnson negligently caused his brother Travis' death on November 9th, 2013. Travis died when a bullet grazed his left cheek and went into his brain.
The jury was hung on the original charge of deliberate homicide, but found consensus on the lesser charge of negligent homicide.
Johnson was taken into custody immediately following the verdict. He will be sentenced at a later date.
(Copyright 2014 New Media Broadcasters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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Havre High School Celebrates Homecoming This Week
HAVRE, Mont. (NMB) - Havre High School is celebrating Homecoming this week, and the activities get started today with hallway decorating. The Blue Ponies volleyball and football teams will play on Thursday and Friday night, respectively, as part of the festivities. But, as Pep Club Adviser Jane Warp notes, Homecoming week is for the entire student body.

"The whole reason behind it is just trying to forge a connection with everybody at the school, not just the athletes. There's so much talent here."

After a long hiatus, the Homecoming parade returned last year. Warp says this year's parade will be even better.

"This year it's bigger and better. I hope that that's the theme: bigger, better, badder every time."

The Homecoming parade will start at 4:00 PM on Friday. It will start in the High School parking lot and travel down 5th Avenue to the Dairy Queen.

(Copyright 2014 New Media Broadcasters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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Hi-Line Participants Sought for Health Study
KREMLIN, Mont. (NMB) - Montana State, Tufts, and Cornell Universities are developing a program for residents in rural Montana towns that aims to promote heart health through healthier eating, more physical activity, reducing stress and quitting smoking.

The Hill County Extension Office will be holding two public meetings in Kremlin on October 2nd. The listening sessions will last 1 1/2 hours, and will be used to gather information for a 2-year study on the subject. Extension Agent Lea Ann Larson says she is looking for participants for the study.

"We're looking for men between the ages of 40 and 65, about 8-10 people. And then we're also looking for women over 65 who'd enjoy visiting for an hour and a half. So again, about 8-12 women."

She adds bringing health awareness to rural Montana is long overdue.

"It's very easy to do these things in urban areas of the United States, and we see a lot of statistics that come out of the urban areas. So this is really exciting to see them focusing on rural America."

The women's meeting will be held from 1-3 PM, while the men's meeting will go from 5:30-7:00 PM. For more information, call the Extension Office at 265-5481, extension 233.

(Copyright 2014 New Media Broadcasters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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Shane Johnson Homicide Trial Day 5
HAVRE, Mont. (NMB) - The 4th day of the Shane Johnson homicide trial saw the prosecutors continue to call upon law enforcement and forensic expert witnesses. Detective Sergeant Jason Barkus offered testimony on some of the injuries that Shane Johnson sustained on the night of November 9th, 2013, the night that he shot and killed his younger brother Travis Johnson. Shane has maintained he did so in self defense.

Also during Barkus' testimony, a number of items were introduced as evidence, including the bloody shoes and socks that Travis Johnson wore that night, the door from Travis' bedroom and a letter that Shane wrote to his mother Donna Biem on November 16th 2013.

Havre Reserve Officer Vicki Olson monitored Shane Johnson that night. She testified that Shane appeared "calm, not agitated and more annoyed" than anything.

The prosecutors will continue to call witnesses on Monday morning at 9:00 AM. Stay tuned to New Media Broadcasters for further developments on this trial.

UPDATE: STATE RESTS ITS' CASE

HAVRE, Mont. (NMB) - Testimony continued Monday, the 5th day of a homicide trial against Shane Johnson. Shane is charged with killing his younger brother Travis during a fight on November 9th, 2013. Shane has stated he did so in self defense.
Montana State Medical Examiner Dr. Gary Dale testified Monday morning, as did Travis Spinder, a firearms analyst with the state Crime Lab. Spinder analyzed and performed several tests on the gun that was used that night; a .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol.
Of the 4 shots fired from the gun, 1 bullet grazed Travis' left check and went into his brain. Spinder testified that after performing 3 separate firing tests of varying distances, he determined that the shot that killed Travis was "at or near" Travis' cheek when fired.
The State has now rested its' case, which means that the defense will begin calling their witnesses Monday afternoon. It is unknown whether or not Shane Johnson will testify, but Public Defender Randi Hood indicated that any witness they call would need preparation time.
Stay tuned to New Media Broadcasters for further updates from this trial.

UPDATE: BOTH SIDES REST, CLOSING ARGUMENTS TUESDAY

The defense called just two witnesses before resting on the 5th day of the Shane Johnson homicide trial. They first called upon Shane himself, and he spoke for nearly an hour about the night in question. Shane stated that the argument between he and Travis began when Travis made disparaging comments about Shane's daughter.

A little later, Travis got up and sucker punched Shane in the face, and that's when, according to Shane "the fight was on." Shane stated that Travis told him he was better off dead, then tried to shove Shane down the stairs.

Shane stated he went downstairs and laid on his bed, but Travis wasn't too far behind. Shane stated that Travis grabbed the gun from underneath Shane's bed, and went to his own room. Shane said he followed Travis because he "didn't want him to do something stupid."

Shane said that there was a struggle for the gun between the two brothers, but Shane stated several times that he did not shoot and kill his brother.

The defense also called Shane's mother Donna Biem to the stand. Biem had testified previously that she couldn't recall an interview she had with Havre Detective Ryan Pearson, though a transcript proved that the conversation did take place.

Biem stated that she has been suffering from blood pressure spikes that leave her brain "feeling like a tornado went through it." She also testified that Travis was "drunk and belligerent" on the night in question.

Both sides have now rested, and the jury will hear final instructions and closing arguments Tuesday morning at 8:45. They will then begin deliberation.

Stay tuned to New Media Broadcasters for further updates from this trial.
(Copyright 2014 New Media Broadcasters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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Shane Johnson Homicide Trial Day 4
HAVRE, Mont. (NMB) - The third day of the Shane Johnson homicide trial began with more than an hour of discussions between District Judge Dan Boucher and opposing counsel without the jury present.
A bulk of the discussions centered around whether Havre Police Officer Ryan Pearson would be able to testify. On the night Travis Johnson died, Pearson conducted three different interviews with Travis' mother, Donna Biem.
However, during her testimony on Wednesday, Biem stated numerous times that she couldn't recall any interviews with Officer Pearson. Prosecutors stated that they had a transcript of those interviews, and requested that they be able to call Pearson as a witness. Judge Boucher granted the request, and Pearson was the first witness called on Thursday.
During his testimony, Pearson read from the transcripts of the interviews he conducted with Beam. During that interview, Pearson asked Beam if there had been any problems between Shane and Travis Johnson on the night in question, to which she replied no.
State Criminal Investigator Mark Hilyard was the next witness called. He proceeded to take the jury through a series of photographs he took from the crime scene on November 10th, 2013.
The prosecutors will continue to call more witnesses on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. Stay tuned to New Media Broadcasters for the latest information.

UPDATE: NUMBER OF ITEMS OFFERED AS EVIDENCE

The 4th day of the Shane Johnson homicide trial saw the prosecutors continue to call upon law enforcement and forensic expert witnesses. Detective Sergeant Jason Barkus offered testimony on some of the injuries that Shane Johnson sustained on the night of November 9th, 2013, the night that he shot and killed his younger brother Travis Johnson. Shane has maintained he did so in self defense.

Also during Barkus' testimony, a number of items were introduced as evidence, including the bloody shoes and socks that Travis Johnson wore that night, the door from Travis' bedroom and a letter that Shane wrote to his mother Donna Biem on November 16th 2013.

Havre Reserve Officer Vicki Olson monitored Shane Johnson that night. She testified that Shane appeared "calm, not agitated and more annoyed" than anything.

The prosecutors will continue to call witnesses on Monday morning at 9:00 AM. Stay tuned to New Media Broadcasters for further developments on this trial.

(Copyright 2014 New Media Broadcasters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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Shane Johnson Homicide Trial Day 3
HAVRE, Mont. (NMB) - After opening arguments were delivered on Wednesday morning in the Shane Johnson homicide trial, Hill County Attorney Gina Dahl and Assistant Attorney General Catherine Truman began calling their witnesses.

Johnson is accused of murdering his younger brother Travis Johnson on the night of November 9th, 2013. The initial wave of witnesses were emergency personnel who had first arrived at the scene on that night.

After a copy of the 911 call made by Johnson's mother Donna Biem was played, EMTs DJ Olson and Kirk Paulsen described the scene when they first arrived. Both thought that Travis' body would be located at the bottom of the stairs, but instead found the body off to the left. Both said "something wasn't right" about where Travis' body was located.

On Wednesday afternoon, both Donna Biem and her husband Robert were questioned. Donna was asked about the .22 caliber gun that Shane used to shoot Travis, and said that Shane had found it on the side of the road as they were driving one day.

Robert Biem testified that on the night in question, Travis was "very drunk, but seemed to be cheerful."

The trial will resume on Thursday morning at 9:00 when the prosecution will continue to present witnesses.

Stay tuned to New Media Broadcasters for more updates.

UPDATE: POLICE CHIEF, CRIME INVESTIGATOR TESTIFY

The third day of the Shane Johnson homicide trial began with more than an hour of discussions between District Judge Dan Boucher and opposing counsel without the jury present.
A bulk of the discussions centered around whether Havre Police Officer Ryan Pearson would be able to testify. On the night Travis Johnson died, Pearson conducted three different interviews with Travis' mother, Donna Biem.
However, during her testimony on Wednesday, Biem stated numerous times that she couldn't recall any interviews with Officer Pearson. Prosecutors stated that they had a transcript of those interviews, and requested that they be able to call Pearson as a witness. Judge Boucher granted the request, and Pearson was the first witness called on Thursday.
During his testimony, Pearson read from the transcripts of the interviews he conducted with Beam. During that interview, Pearson asked Beam if there had been any problems between Shane and Travis Johnson on the night in question, to which she replied no.
State Criminal Investigator Mark Hilyard was the next witness called. He proceeded to take the jury through a series of photographs he took from the crime scene on November 10th, 2013.
The prosecutors will continue to call more witnesses on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. Stay tuned to New Media Broadcasters for the latest information.
(Copyright 2014 New Media Broadcasters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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Shane Johnson Homicide Trial Day 2
HAVRE, Mont. (AP) - A trial is underway in Havre in the case of a man charged with shooting his younger brother to death in the basement of their parents' home last November.

A jury was selected Tuesday and opening arguments were scheduled to begin Wednesday the deliberate homicide trial of 46-year-old Shane Clark Johnson. He is charged with killing Travis Johnson last Nov. 9.

Court records say Shane Johnson told police officers that he shot his brother in self-defense. He also said the gun went off when his brother pushed him down the stairs. He later said his brother followed him downstairs and "would not stop."

Officers say Shane Johnson's story didn't match the evidence, including the fact that there were bullet holes and shell casings throughout the basement.

Stay tuned to New Media Broadcasters throughout the trial for updates on the proceedings.

UPDATE: OPENING ARGUMENTS DELIVERED

The trial began Wednesday morning with jury instructions and opening statements from both parties.

Assistant Attorney General Catherine Truman spoke for the prosecution, and began by saying "This is the story of how Travis Johnson died." She explained how a scuffle had broken out between Shane and Travis Johnson in the upstairs living room, giving Shane a bloody nose.

She noted that blood from Shane's nose dripped onto an envelope inside a case containing his .22 caliber gun, the same gun that fired 4 shots, including one that went through Travis' left cheek and intro his brain.

She told the jury that Shane proceeded to get under the covers in his bed, and stayed there with the lights turned off until officers removed him later.

Public Defender Thomas Schoenleben told a different story. He told the jury about Travis' heavy drinking, stating that on the day in question, November 9th, 2013, Travis was already buzzed in the early afternoon and by 4:00 PM, he was drunk.

He described Shane as viciously attacked, brutally beaten, and fighting for his life. He stated that Shane was sucker punched in the face, repeatedly struck by Travis and nearly thrown down the stairs.

He explained that Shane was terrified over what had happened, and collapsed into bed in a bloody pile.

Following opening arguments, Hill County Attorney Gina Dahl began calling witnesses. The first several witnesses testified about the actual crime scene on the night in question. The witnesses included Dispatcher Nicole Anderson, EMTs DJ Olson and Kirk Paulsen, and Havre Police Officer Brian Cassidy.

(Copyright 2014 New Media Broadcasters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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Shane Johnson Homicide Trial: Day 1
HAVRE, Mont. (NMB) - The jury trial for a Havre man facing a deliberate homicide charge began Tuesday in state District Court in Havre. Shane Johnson is accused shooting his younger brother, Travis Johnson, on the evening of November 9th, 2013. Travis Johnson later passed away at Northern Montana Hospital. Shane Johnson has pleaded not guilty and says he was acting in self defense.

Jury selection began Tuesday morning at 9:00. 90 Hill County residents received jury duty notification in the mail, and court officials believe that selecting a jury will take most of the day.

Stay tuned to New Media Broadcasters for updates throughout this trial, which has been scheduled to last until October 2nd.

UPDATE: JURY SELECTED
Jury selection in the Shane Johnson homicide trial concluded Tuesday afternoon. 9 men and 5 women will make up the 12-person jury, as well as 2 alternates. The 14 individuals won't know who is a juror and who is an alternate until after all of the evidence has been presented, though.
In all, 90 jury duty notices were sent out to residents of Hill County. 67 potential jurors showed up, and only 4 were complete no-shows. The trial will officially start Wednesday at 8:45 AM with opening arguments.
The prosecutors in this case are Hill County Attorney Gina Dahl and Assistant Attorney General Catherine Truman from Helena. Johnson is being represented by public defenders Thomas Schoenleben of Hamilton and Randi Hood of Helena.
Stay tuned to New Media Broadcasters throughout this trial for updates
(Copyright 2014 New Media Broadcasters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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