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Two men charged with burglary, vandalism at golf course

by SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER
The Western News | August 30, 2022 7:00 AM

Two Libby men are facing felony charges for the alleged theft of a golf cart and vandalism last month at Cabinet View Golf Course.

Cole Douglas Murphy and Shane Brian Rice, 20, are charged with felony burglary, felony criminal mischief and misdemeanor unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

Each man pleaded not guilty on Aug. 1 in Lincoln County District Court.

According to the affidavit charging the offenses, at about 6:37 a.m. Thursday, July 14, Libby Police Officer Cody Dewitt was notified by dispatch that golf course employees had reported vandalism and the theft of a golf court earlier that morning. Shortly after, Dewitt learned from dispatch that the employees, while searching for the cart, found two drunk men and one had a gun. Dewitt and several officers from the Sheriff’s Office and Libby Police Department responded.

When Dewitt spoke to one of the employees, he learned all the keys for their equipment were gone as well as a new Toro Workman MDX cart, which was valued at $10,000. A damaged windshield to the cart was later found laying on the course. The employee said he had locked the door to the maintenance building. He also found damage to the course, ranges and tee flags.

Then, both employees went to the back nine holes after receiving photos from a trail camera near a gate. They found a red Chevy Camaro with a temporary Idaho tag. One of the employees found two men, identified as Rice and Murphy, walking up the road. He recognized Rice as a former employee of the course. When he asked the pair about the cart, they denied being involved or knowing where the cart was but they did say they knew who had done it, according to the court document.

When the men arrived back at the Camaro, the other employee said the situation became tense because Rice was armed with a handgun that belonged to Murphy, according to court documents. The employee was also carrying a gun on his right hip. He said the situation became “sketchy” because Rice was allegedly waving the gun around. Eventually, both men agreed to unload and put their respective guns away. But one of the employees said Rice went back to the car and could hear Rice working the action of the gun.

One of the employees also told Dewitt that Rice had bent over at one point and several keys fell out of his pocket. The employee said the keys belonged to the missing golf course equipment and the missing cart.

The other employee then showed Dewitt photos from the trail camera that allegedly show Rice and Murphy entering the golf course at 3:59 a.m.

At that point, Rice and Murphy were arrested. Dewitt then learned that Lincoln County Detective Duane Rhodes had found the golf cart over an embankment off of Flower Creek Road. The cart had considerable damage and Dewitt used a key that fit in the ignition that allegedly came from Rice. However, the cart would not start.

After the cart was towed from the scene, Dewitt went to the maintenance building and reported finding tool marks on the door latch.

Pre-trial hearings for the men are scheduled for Dec. 12.

The maximum penalty for a conviction for burglary is 20 years in the Montana State Prison. For criminal mischief, it’s 10 years and for the misdemeanor, six months in the Lincoln County Detention Center.

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Cole Douglas Murphy