Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The Missoula County Attorney’s Office charged 22 new criminal complaints this week, which is six more than last week and significantly higher than the weekly average. According to County Attorney Kirsten Pabst, almost half of those cases involved some form of violence. 

“There were three strangulation cases, a felony PFMA partner family member assault, violation of an order of protection, felony indecent exposure, as well as an assault with a weapon case,” Pabst said. “The allegation is that the defendant threatened another driver with a hatchet.” 

In the endangerment category, Pabst said her office charged four new cases. 

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“A combination of criminal endangerment chases, injuries with cars, and a couple of felony DUI's, which is a fourth or subsequent offense,” Pabst said. “In the property category, we charged a handful of thefts, a combination of residential thefts, as well as retail thefts.” 

In addition, Pabst said there were five new drug crimes this week. 

“This week they were all methamphetamine cases and then we charged one administrative crime, which was a fugitive from justice out of the state of Idaho,” Pabst said. “We're also reviewing a handful of in custodies from the last 48 hours including an attempted kidnapping, two assault with a weapon cases, as well as a negligent arson.” 

Colton Merritt is charged with deliberate homicide for shooting his father multiple times and killing him. On May 25, 2023, Merritt entered an Alford plea. 

“It is essentially a guilty plea, but the person doesn't admit the underlying facts,” Pabst said. “What they do admit is that there's a substantial likelihood a jury will convict them, there's a factual basis for it, and that it's in the person's best interests. Colton entered an Alford guilty plea to deliberate homicide. We are going to be recommending 95 years.” 

Pabst said Merritt’s sentencing is set for July 14.

You can listen to Pabst's full report below:

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