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Troy man accused of DUI homicide pleads not guilty

by SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER
The Western News | March 24, 2023 7:00 AM

A man facing DUI homicide charges after an investigation by Lincoln County law enforcement into a November 2022 crash that claimed the lives of a Troy man and his son pleaded not guilty in district court Monday.

David Daniel Lefell, 68, of Troy is charged with two counts of felony vehicular homicide under the influence. The charging document indicated Lefell was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the crash on Nov. 7 on U.S. 2 that resulted in the deaths of 87-year-old Robert Basham and 69-year-old Bobby Joe Basham.

Lefell was arraigned on the charges on Monday, March 20. He is currently lodged in the Lincoln County Detention Center.

The maximum penalty for conviction of each charge is 30 years in the Montana State Prison. Lefell’s next court hearing is set for June 19.

According to the affidavit of probable cause by Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Virgil Sadewasser, he arrived at the scene of the two-vehicle accident near mile marker 27 at 2:50 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7. Other first responders were on the scene and an adult male was being loaded into an ambulance before leaving for Cabinet Peaks Medical Center.

Bobby Joe Basham, the driver of a 2017 Chevy Cruze, died at the scene of the accident, and his father, Robert Basham, had been taken to the hospital where he died later that day.

According to Sadewasser, the Cruze was facing north in an eastbound lane with the rear bumper resting on a concrete barrier and heavy front-end damage. The front windshield was broken and the airbags were deployed. He also reported the seat belts were locked in an unused position.

A 2004 Dodge Ram R15 truck was in the eastbound lane facing east. The front bumper, grill and passenger fender were damaged and the front passenger headlight was broken. The driver side seat belt was locked out in the extended position, according to Sadewasser’s report. He also said the road didn’t show many marks due to ice covering the surface.

Sadewasser went to Cabinet Peaks Medical Center and identified Lefell as the driver of the Dodge truck. When he interviewed the accused man, Lefell allegedly said the accident was 100% his fault and he was guilty. Lefell’s blood was drawn and a toxicology report indicated Lefell was under the influence of marijuana.

Sadewasser then interviewed Bruce Basham, Robert’s son, at his residence where he lived with Robert and Bobby. Bruce said both men were at his house the day before the crash. He said they left on the day of the crash to take a trip.

According to Sadewasser’s report, Lefell spent the previous 24 hours at his temporary residence at 1574 Schoolhouse Lake Road. Lefell allegedly told the trooper he smoked marijuana the night before. He also said he left to travel to Rosauers in Libby to get apples to feed the local deer when the accident happened.

Sadewasser reported that Lefell lost control of the eastbound Dodge and crossed the centerline into the westbound lane and struck the Cruze. The trooper reported Lefell was driving too fast for the slick road conditions. He was also cited for driving while his license was suspended.