The last youth in a trio of downtown Hamilton vandals was sentenced Thursday, while a Stevensville rancher was given a week of jail leave to tend his chores.
Harley Wayne Edelbach, 18, of Corvallis, was sentenced to 25 years with 20 suspended in the Montana Department of Corrections in the vandalism case. He must also pay restitution for his crimes totaling almost $123,000.
Edelbach was convicted of four felony charges: accountability for arson, burglary, criminal endangerment and criminal mischief by common scheme.
According to court documents, Edelbach and two friends, Micah Romel Brown and Isaiah Daniel Bartlett, went on what Ravalli County District Judge James Haynes called a “little terror spree” on May 19, 2011. Documents report the teens spray-painted houses and cars, broke into a church and stole paint as well as started a house fire.
Brown previously testified that the three started the fire after they found a spoon they assumed to be used to inject methamphetamine.
“We decided if this guy wants to be a meth-head, we’ll burn the place down. Show him what happens,” Brown said in the article.
There was no truth to their contention of drug use or production at the residence.
Brown and Bartlett received 15-year sentences for the crimes of that night.
Edelbach’s attorney, Sasha Brownlee, asked Edelbach’s sister, Tiffany Moulton, to the stand before sentencing. Moulton said Edelbach was always a happy kid and her children adore him.
When Haynes asked how the family had let Edelbach commit so many crimes, Moulton said, “You can’t control a human being completely.”
Taking that into account, as well as Edelbach’s extensive juvenile criminal record, Haynes decided on the 25 years with 20 suspended.
“I think you need a little longer period of supervision,” Haynes said.
Another man received some leniency from the judge on Thursday.
Ivan Lee Roy Jr., 58, of Stevensville, returned to court after two weeks of incarceration to appeal to the judge for a week to help out on his ranch.
Roy’s common law spouse, Marlene Bolin, wrote to Haynes that she needed help. They were branding on one day and having an estate sale a week later. She said Roy had the knowledge to do those things, where she didn’t.
Roy’s attorney asked for nine days instead of the previously agreed-upon week, but Haynes said he would only allow seven days. Roy will be free to go home from May 13-20, then must return for his last two weeks of incarceration.
Reach reporter Lindsey Galipeau at 363-3300.