Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Judge considers 3 felony DUI cases


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Felony DUIs seem to be increasingly common in Blaine County 5th District Court.

Judge Robert J. Elgee considered three cases on Monday, Nov. 22. He sent one man to prison, scheduled a jury trial for another and heard a guilty plea from a third.

Brandon Dean Weber

Elgee decided that Brandon Dean Weber, a 41-year-old Bellevue man, needs to spend some time in prison following his fourth DUI conviction within the past five years. Elgee also noted that Weber has an extensive criminal background with five prior felony convictions, including theft, robbery, burglary and smuggling illegal aliens.

"I say, Mr. Weber, you've been around the block—that's obvious looking at your record," the judge said.

Elgee sentenced Weber to four years in prison, with two of them to be served before parole eligibility. He gave Weber credit for six months already spent in jail following his latest arrest in May. Weber also faces a two-year driver's license suspension that becomes effective when he's released from prison.

According to court records, Weber had DUI convictions in Lincoln County in 2009, in Bellingham, Wash., in 2006 and in Lawrence County, S.D., in 2005. Records state that in the 2009 conviction, Weber was sentenced to 12 days in jail, placed on one year probation and had his driver's license suspended.

His latest arrest was by Hailey police on May 21 near the intersection of Main Street and McKercher Boulevard in northern Hailey. A probable-cause affidavit filed by patrolman Larry Clark states that Weber was located in a red Saab with Utah license plates after police received a tip about a possible drunk driver.

Blaine County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Fredback said at Monday's sentencing hearing that Weber had a blood-alcohol level of .22, nearly three times the legal limit of .08.

Fredback noted that most of Weber's crimes had been committed elsewhere.

"He has served a lot of prison time in a lot of different places," Fredback said.

In sentencing, Elgee followed a stipulated agreement between Fredback and Hailey attorney Douglas Werth, who was appointed public defender, wherein both defense and prosecution agreed to prison time.

"He just wants to serve his time and get on with his life," Werth said.

Richard Dean Barkes

Elgee scheduled a March 1 jury trial for Richard Dean Barkes, a 56-year-old Bellevue man charged with a felony for allegedly driving with an "excessive" blood-alcohol level.

Under Idaho law, a person arrested for DUI with a blood-alcohol content of .20 or greater can be charged with a felony if he or she was convicted within five years of another DUI where the blood-alcohol content was also .20 or greater.

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According to court records, Barkes' blood-alcohol level in his latest arrest in September was .27. He was convicted of misdemeanor DUI in Blaine County in July with a blood-alcohol content of .23 for an arrest in June.

In the July conviction, he was sentenced to 16 days in jail, had his driver's license suspended and was placed on probation for two years. He has now been charged with probation violation in that case.

From the September arrest, Barkes is also charged with the misdemeanor crimes of driving without privileges and driving with an open container of alcohol.

According to Idaho court records, Barkes also has DUI convictions in Gooding County in 2000 and in Blaine County in 1998.

Barkes pleaded not guilty to the latest charge. It stemmed from an arrest by the Bellevue Marshal's Office on Sept. 18 near the intersection of Second and Pine streets in east Bellevue.

Barkes remains incarcerated in the Blaine County jail on $25,000 bond.

Thomas Daniel Evans

Elgee scheduled sentencing for Jan. 3 for Thomas Daniel Evans, a 47-year-old Bellevue man who pleaded guilty to felony drunk driving.

"So tell me what you did," Elgee asked the defendant before accepting his guilty plea.

"I was driving drunk in Bellevue," Evans told the judge.

Evans was charged with a felony in his latest arrest in September because of two prior misdemeanor DUI convictions within the past 10 years.

According to court records, he was convicted of misdemeanor DUI in Blaine County once in 2006 and twice in 2000. Court records state that in the 2006 conviction, Evans was sentenced to five days in jail, placed on one year probation and ordered to pay fines and fees of $1,129.50.

The latest arrest was by the Bellevue Marshal's Office on Sept. 24 near the intersection of Fourth and Pine streets in east Bellevue.

Deputy Rene Rodriguez wrote in a probable-cause affidavit that he pulled Evans over because he saw him run a stop sign.

Deputy Prosecutor Fredback reported at Monday's court hearing that Evans had a blood-alcohol content of .15.

The guilty plea was in accord with a plea agreement, wherein the prosecuting attorney's office will recommend that Evans receive a five-year suspended prison sentence, serve 45 days in jail, be placed on probation for three years and have his driver's license suspended for three years.

Evans remains free on $30,000 bond.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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