A Stevensville man was charged with felony drunken driving and a host of misdemeanor charges Friday after crashing his truck three miles south of town at the Logan Lane curve.
According to court records, 29-year-old John Randolph Mecredy has three previous DUI convictions: two in New York from 2005 and 2008 and one in Montana from May 12, 2010.
According to an affidavit filed by deputy county attorney Angela Wetzsteon, Mecredy called for a tow truck at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday after crashing his truck. When Bill Anderson of Wimp's Auto Body arrived on the scene, he called law enforcement based on the extent of the damage.
When Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Scott Bennett responded to the crash scene, Mecredy was asleep in the front seat of the vehicle with the keys in the ignition and the engine off. Bennett wrote in his report that it was apparent that Mecredy's truck had gone off the pavement, and that the northbound truck had also crossed over the oncoming lane of traffic and struck a fence.
According to Bennett, Mecredy repeatedly claimed someone else had been the driver of the truck but he could not think of who the driver might have been.
However, several times during the interview, Mecredy admitted he had been driving at the time of the crash. He also admitted to not wearing a seatbelt and not having insurance.
While Trooper Bennet was speaking with Mecredy, he noticed a very strong odor of alcohol on his breath. When asked, Mecredy admitted that he had had "seven or eight" shots at a bar earlier in the evening. Bennet also noticed that Mecredy was unsteady on his feet and nearly fell over when he first stepped out of the truck, and his speech was slurred.
Mecredy refused to take a Breathalyzer test on the scene. After being arrested and transported to the Ravalli County Detention Center, Mecredy also refused to perform field sobriety tests because they would incriminate him.
Trooper Bennett secured a search warrant by telephone to draw Mecredy's blood, which was taken six hours later at Marcus Daly Hospital. Court records did not indicate the results of that test.
Trooper Bennet later reviewed a surveillance video from Stevensville Super 1 grocery store, where Mecredy claimed he had been before the crash. According to charging documents, the video clearly shows Mecredy's vehicle pulling into the lot and nearly crashing in the process.
Video from inside the store shows Mecredy stumbling around the store and buying cookies and cheese. Mecredy is also shown getting back into his truck and leaving the parking lot about five minutes before he allegedly crashed his vehicle.
Mecredy's bail was set at $10,000 and he will be required to wear an alcohol monitoring device if he posts bail. He was also charged with five misdemeanors: driving with a suspended license, failure to carry proof of insurance, failure to wear a seatbelt, careless driving and failure to report and accident involving property damage.
On Monday, a Corvallis man was charged with a felony fifth DUI after an early morning trip to the Corvallis Tavern.
According to charging documents, an anonymous tipster called 9-1-1 at 8:30 a.m. on Friday to report a possible drunk driver, later identified as Ryan Thomas Schmidt, 36, of Corvallis.
According to the tipster, Schmidt had said he could drive drunk during the day, just not at night, and he was heading to the Corvallis Tavern. The tipster provided a license plate number and a description of Schmidt's vehicle.
Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Pat Heaney took the call and parked where he could see both the Corvallis Tavern and Schmidt's vehicle, which was parked outside.
Heaney observed Schmidt walk from the Corvallis Mercantile to the Corvallis Tavern at about 11 a.m. A few minutes later, Heaney saw Schmidt walk out, get into his vehicle and drive off.
Heaney followed, and was able to observe Schmidt's vehicle swerving between the fog line and the center lane several times. When Heaney attempted to pull Schmidt's car over, he didn't notice until the trooper activated his lights.
Upon making contact with Schmidt, Heaney noticed that he was upset at having been pulled over and his breath smelled strongly of an alcoholic beverage. Schmidt claimed that the odor came from an empty beer can in the car, but Heaney could still smell it on his breath when he left the vehicle.
After failing field sobriety tests, a Breathalyzer test showed that Schmidt's blood alcohol content was .214. The legal limit in Montana is .08.
Schmidt has been previously convicted of DUI offenses in Montana in 2002, two in 2003 and one in 2004.
Bail was set at $10,000 and he will be required to wear an alcohol monitoring bracelet.
Also on Monday, a Stevensville woman was charged with felony assault on a peace officer after she kicked a sheriff's deputy in the leg on Saturday. According to court documents, 27-year-old Jessica Erler resisted arrest and kicked Ravalli County Sheriff's Deputy Mike Koeppen after he and another deputy responded to a report of a verbal disturbance and a suicidal female.
The deputies observed two people running out the back door of the house when they arrived at the residence, and gave chase.
Erler ignored calls to stop, and Deputy Koeppen found Erler sitting down against a barb-wire fence near a creek. As Koeppen approached, he told Erler to stand up so he could handcuff her for safety reasons and concerns that she might have a firearm.
According to charging documents, Erler was distraught and yelling at Koeppen, with her knees up against her chest and her arms around her knees. When Koeppen grabbed her right arm to get her to stand up, Erler allegedly kicked him near his knee.
Koeppen was able to force Erler on her stomach to handcuff her with the help of another deputy. Later, when the two deputies were investigating the residence, Erler allegedly brought her handcuffed hands from behind her back under her feet in order to place them in front of her, prompting the deputies to place a "belly-belt" on her.
Erler's bail was set at only $1,000 because she has no prior criminal history and is employed in Missoula.
Reach reporter David Erickson at 363-3300 or email@example.com.
Sign up for our Crime & Courts newsletter
Get the latest in local public safety news with this weekly email.