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Lincoln County man causes ruckus in courtroom

by SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER
The Western News | July 1, 2022 7:00 AM

There was a little bit of excitement in the Lincoln County District Court on June 20 after a Troy resident appeared for a hearing to determine if his case would go to trial.

William Cody Hartman, 66, who is currently serving a 3-year sentence in the Montana State Prison for criminal endangerment, uttered several profanities at District Court Judge Matt Cuffe and had to be restrained by multiple officers as he was led from the courtroom.

Hartman was brought from Deer Lodge for his appearance on felony burglary and theft charges and he was visibly upset.

“This is malicious prosecution,” Hartman said. “I had to come 310 miles for this?”

Hartman initially received a 3-year suspended sentence on the criminal endangerment charge on Feb. 7. That was for using a cane to break his roommate’s foot. Two other charges, both for felony assault, were dismissed as part of a plea deal in exchange for Hartman’s guilty plea in the cane incident. Those incidents allegedly involved Hartman threatening a casino patron with a knife in July 2021 and allegedly firing a .44 caliber handgun at his roommate in early August 2021.

Hartman received credit for serving 180 days in the county detention center and he was released from custody on Feb. 8.

But, according to state Probation and Parole Officer Darrell Vanderhoef, Hartman quickly found trouble again.

According to court documents that Vanderhoef filed in seeking a revocation of the suspended sentence, Hartman allegedly created a disturbance at a bank in Libby on Feb. 8 and was cited for disorderly conduct.

Vanderhoef wrote in his report that “the defendant is the most difficult offender I have supervised. The day he was released after sentencing he walked straight to the First Montana Bank where he created a disturbance by making inappropriate comments to the bank teller.”

Vanderhoef also reported that Hartman was “trespassed” from several businesses and that he tried to contact the victim in the cane incident on Feb. 18.

The Probation and Parole Office then sent Hartman to a chemical dependency clinic and a mental health facility for an evaluation. Staff members at both businesses sent him away because of his behavior, according to court documents.

Later in the day on Feb. 18, Libby Police Officer Cody DeWitt responded to a property management office where two employees said Hartman allegedly urinated all over the bathroom floor.

Two employees at the business said Hartman came to the office to retrieve his belongings from a Montana Avenue residence where he had been arrested several months ago. They said Hartman believed his belongings were in the office, but they said the business was not managing the property when Hartman was arrested.

DeWitt wrote in the charging document that Hartman was told how he could get his belongings, which were in a storage facility, after his arrest.

Hartman told both employees at the property management business that he had allegedly pried open a door and retrieved items from the storage at his previous residence, according to court documents.

The owner of the property management business later confirmed with Officer DeWitt that three vehicle tires, an air conditioner and other items were missing from the storage unit. The value of the items was about $1,630 and the damage to the storage unit was $500.

DeWitt later searched Hartman’s vehicle and found an air conditioner and a tire, according to court documents.

Vanderhoef wrote in court documents that Hartman “poses a threat to public safety, has significant mental health issues and needs mental health treatment in a secure setting.”

Hartman will be tried later this year on the burglary and theft charges. The maximum penalty for burglary is 20 years in prison and for theft it is three years.