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Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Texas couple killed in wreck A Fort Worth, Texas, couple was killed Tuesday after their vehicle flipped on Interstate 90 just west of Hardin.

According to Montana Highway Patrol, the couple was headed eastbound on I-90 in their 2000 Honda Accord at about 3 p.m. when the car wandered into the median, struck a guardrail and flipped over.

The driver, a 59-year-old female, and her 66-year-old husband were pronounced dead at the scene, the MHP said. Both victims' names are being withheld pending family notification.

One of the victims was wearing a seat belt, though it wasn't clear which one, the dispatcher said.

Fire damages Billings home A home at 161 Erickson Court was damaged Tuesday evening by a a fire that was started by fireworks near the home.

Fire crews were called at about 7:30 p.m. after the left side of the building caught fire, Deputy Fire Marshal Ralph Freeman said.

Ten minutes later, the flames were under control, Freeman said. Crew members tore the burned panels from the house to make sure the fire hadn't spread beyond the garage and attic.

Freeman estimated the damage at $10,000. There were no injuries, though the house will be uninhabitable for several days, he said. The home is owned by the Havens family.

Jo Anne Havens said she was taking a nap when she heard her husband shouting for her to get outside. "I just panicked and ran," she said. "Then I ran back in because I wanted to get the family pictures."

Collision closes Grand Avenue A head-on collision Tuesday evening on Grand Avenue between 11th and 12th streets west closed the street for three hours and sent four people to a Billings hospital.

The accident occurred just after 7 p.m. when a passenger car heading east on Grand Avenue in the outside lane of traffic attempted to switch lanes and pushed the car traveling east in the inside lane across the center line. The car then collided head-on with a pickup truck heading west on Grand, Billings Police Sgt. Jay Berry said.

Berry said he did not know the extent of the injuries in the accident. The driver of the pickup and the other vehicle were not injured. They had no passengers in their vehicles, Berry said. The identities of those involved were not released Tuesday night.

Grand Avenue was closed until after 10 p.m. while police continued to investigate the accident.

Woman sentenced in pot case A 19-year-old Laurel woman was given a 5-year suspended prison sentence Tuesday in District Court for her arrest last year with two pounds of marijuana.

Brandy Lee Banks was sentenced for felony possession of a dangerous drug with intent to deliver. She was charged in July 2002 after driving her car recklessly through a construction area, which led to her arrest on a misdemeanor drunken driving charge. Police later searched the car and found two pounds of marijuana.

Judge Russell Fagg rejected a request by Banks' court-appointed attorney for a deferred sentence, which would have kept the felony conviction off of her public record.

Shooting suspect pleads not guilty A man accused of shooting six times at a liquor store while riding by on a bicycle pleaded not guilty Tuesday in District Court to felony criminal endangerment.

James Anthony Moore, 49, also pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of carrying a concealed weapon. Judge Russell Fagg kept bond at $100,000 after prosecutors said Moore has a history of violence, eight aliases and three birth dates.

According to court records, Moore was arrested July 8 after he shot six times at a liquor store at 1302 Second Ave. N. Several employees were inside the building, but no one was injured. Police said three bullets penetrated into the store, and a witness said a light fixture crashed to the floor during the shooting.

Moore was arrested nearby. Police said they found a semi-automatic 9 mm handgun in his shirt pocket. When he was arrested, Moore had a blood-alcohol level of .269 percent, prosecutors said.

Billings man pleads in meth case A Billings man accused of operating a drug lab pleaded not guilty Tuesday in District Court.

Jerry Allen Jeffries, 45, was arraigned on a charge of operating a clandestine drug lag and two counts of possessing drugs for sale. He also is charged with possessing drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor.

Jeffries and his wife, 44-year-old Gloria Jean Jeffries, were arrested Thursday after police searched their home at 931 Cook Ave. Prosecutors said the couple had large amounts of chemicals and equipment in the home used to make methamphetamine.

Gloria Jeffries previously pleaded not guilty to similar drug charges. Both were released from the county jail after posting bond.

Stabbing suspect appears in court A Wyola man known as "Boogie" who prosecutors accuse of trying to stab a nightclub bouncer pleaded not guilty Tuesday in District Court.

Truman Jefferson, 27, was arraigned on a charge of felony assault with a weapon. Judge Russell Fagg lowered his bond from $15,000 set in Justice Court to $7,500 after prosecutors said Jefferson has no criminal record.

According to court records, Jefferson and another man were escorted out of Desperados, 145 Regal St., on Friday by a bouncer after the men caused problems at a poker table. Once outside, Jefferson pulled a knife and tried to stab the bouncer. The bouncer was not injured.

Woman enters plea in stalking case A 33-year-old Billings woman accused of stalking her ex-boyfriend by leaving numerous notes and messages, including a torn picture of a sonogram, pleaded not guilty Tuesday in District Court.

Brenda Jean Halling was charged with felony stalking and released after posting $10,000 bond.

Prosecutors said Halling began leaving numerous notes and telephone messages for her ex-boyfriend beginning in April, at about the time he obtained a restraining order against her. In early May, prosecutors said Halling left an envelop in a mailbox for the man with a torn picture of a sonogram.