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Local digest

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Fire at Western Sugar an accident

The blaze at a Western Sugar maintenance shop was accidental, a fire investigator determined.

Deputy Fire Marshal Terry O'Toole said the late evening fire on Tuesday caused an estimated $500,000 damage to the building and its contents.

O'Toole's investigation showed that "combustible and flammable materials came into contact with an undetermined heat source" and sparked the fire.

Man dies after being hit by pickup

A 55-year-old man died near Fort Smith on Tuesday after he was hit by a pickup truck.

James Batman, of Fort Smith and Billings, was killed while trying to help move an old covered wagon about 1.5 miles southwest of Fort Smith. Around noon, a chain broke during the operation and Batman, a filmmaker who moved to the area in 1994, was run over by the truck, according to Terry Bullis, Big Horn County coroner.

Batman's death was ruled accidental.

Billings felon admits having guns

Billings resident Jay Lawhon, 49, pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to having firearms after having been convicted of a felony.

Federal prosecutors said Lawhon was sentenced in Yellowstone County in 2001 for felony theft and was prohibited from possessing firearms. Then in April 2003, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was given two pawn slips from a Yellowstone County sheriff's deputy that showed Lawhon had pawned a .243-caliber rifle in December 2002 and a .22-caliber rifle in November 2002.

Lawhon also had previous felony convictions for robbery, burglary, criminal sales of dangerous drugs and criminal possession of dangerous drugs.

Senior U.S. District Judge Jack Shanstrom set sentencing for Jan. 12. Lawhon could be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Man dies in crash near Laurel

A Laurel man was killed in a one-vehicle west of town Wednesday morning.

The victim is Patrick Shimskey, 58, according to deputy county coroner Keith Montgomery.

According to the Montana Highway Patrol, Shimskey was driving west on Old U.S. Highway 10 when he missed a corner, overcorrected, lost control and went into a ditch where the vehicle started to roll. Shimskey was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected.

Alcohol was not a factor, the MHP reported, and speed was not known early in the investigation.


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