Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst and her staff dealt with what could be a record number of felony cases last week, including double homicide, kidnapping and child sexual abuse.

"We processed 41 new felony cases this week and that includes the double homicide, which as you know takes a significant amount of resources, as well," said the county's chief prosecutor. "We had 15 violent crimes, four endangerment crimes, a whole bunch of property crimes, and several serious drug crimes, where the allegation is for possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute."

"We also had two new strangulation cases, assault on a minor, two assault with a weapon cases, one using a shot glass, two deliberate homicide cases, two sex cases, that's sexual intercourse without consent and sexual abuse of children., four burglary cases and two assaults, one of which occurred in a bar."

Pabst explained the process by which a suspect is charged with a crime.

"The standard is probable cause," she said. "If the person presents an immediate risk to other people or they might damage evidence or property, then the officers are obligated to place them in custody at the time. If not, then they're issued a summons to appear within two weeks. If there is any danger, then a judge will issue a warrant for their arrest and law enforcement personnel with arrest them."

Pabst also answered the question of why certain individuals charged with serious crimes are freed and then reoffend.

"There have been several instances in the past year where we've asked for an incarceration sentence, and the judge has disagreed with us and given something more lenient," she said. "Sometimes a person is judged by objective standards as not being at risk to reoffend, and yet they do. There's certainly not enough jail space and prison beds to put everyone who commits a crime behind bars. After all, we have an obligation not just to punish people, but to also to try to help and rehabilitate them so they won't reoffend. So, it's a delicate balancing act."

Pabst pointed out the double homicide case in which Tiffany Pierce and Augustus Standingrock were arrested and held on $2 million bail, that no further information could be disclosed to ensure that the investigation can proceed to the point where a successful prosecution can be presented at trial.

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