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State v. Parkhill

Supreme Court of Montana

April 3, 2018

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
JASON MATTHEW PARKHILL, Defendant and Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs: February 7, 2018

          District Court of the Thirteenth Judicial District, In and For the County of Yellowstone, Cause Nos. DC 13-955, DC 15-559, and DC 16-20 Honorable Gregory R. Todd, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant: Matthew J. Wald, Wald Law Office, PLLC, Hardin, Montana

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Micheal S. Wellenstein, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana Scott Twito, Yellowstone County Attorney, Billings, Montana

          OPINION

          Beth Baker, Justice.

         ¶1 The Thirteenth Judicial District Court, Yellowstone County, sentenced Jason Parkhill in three separate cases involving Partner or Family Member Assault (PFMA) against three different women. The District Court included conditions in all three cases that restricted contact between Parkhill and his victims. Parkhill appeals the restriction prohibiting contact between him and his second victim, K.M., as an unreasonable sentencing condition and as an unconstitutional restriction on his common-law marriage. We affirm.

         PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         ¶2 This appeal arises from four separate criminal cases filed against Parkhill between 2013 and 2016. Parkhill was charged in 2013 with felony PFMA in violation of § 45-5-206(1)(a), MCA, for an assault against J.P., with whom he had an intimate relationship. He pleaded guilty to the charge. The District Court sentenced him to two years, with all but thirty days deferred.

         ¶3 During the time of Parkhill's deferred sentence for the 2013 conviction, he was charged with two additional counts of felony PFMA-one in 2014 and one in 2015-both involving his domestic partner K.M. The State later amended both cases to add felony charges of tampering with a witness because of Parkhill's attempts to dissuade K.M. from cooperating with law enforcement. The State also petitioned to revoke the deferred sentence for his 2013 conviction. In November 2015, Parkhill entered into a plea agreement with the State to admit to violating the conditions of his deferred sentence for his 2013 PFMA conviction and to plead guilty to the 2015 PFMA and related witness tampering charges. The State agreed to dismiss the 2014 PFMA and related witness tampering charges.

         ¶4 Prior to sentencing for the 2013 and 2015 convictions, however, Parkhill was charged with another count of PFMA and a count of misdemeanor criminal destruction of or tampering with a communication device for an assault against his new girlfriend J.G. in early 2016. The 2016 charges later were amended to include felony tampering with a witness after Parkhill contacted J.G. on multiple occasions using another inmate's video chat account and discouraged her from cooperating with law enforcement. Parkhill entered another plea agreement with the State, agreeing to plead no contest to felony tampering with a witness. In exchange, the State agreed to dismiss the related PFMA and tampering with a communication device charges. At a combined hearing, Parkhill entered a no contest plea for the 2016 witness tampering charge, and the District Court revoked Parkhill's 2013 deferred sentence. The court proceeded to sentence Parkhill for the 2013, 2015, and 2016 convictions.

         ¶5 The pre-sentence investigation report (PSI) included victim statement letters from K.M., K.M.'s son, and K.M.'s mother. K.M.'s son described abusive interactions between his mother and Parkhill and said he was scared that Parkhill would "get revenge" on him and his mother. K.M.'s mother wrote that K.M. and K.M.'s son were terrified of Parkhill. K.M.'s mother reported that Parkhill had sent her threatening text messages and expressed her belief that "Parkhill is a very sick and dangerous individual." K.M. submitted a fifteen-page, hand-written letter in which she described in graphic detail Parkhill's physical, psychological, and sexual abuse of her. She stated that she could not "sit in a court room with this man because [she is] terrified of him" and "fear[s] for [her] son's life as well as [her own.]"

         ¶6 The PSI recommended two probation conditions to restrict contact between Parkhill and his victims. The first states:

The Defendant shall not knowingly have any contact, oral, written, electronic or through a third party, with the victim(s) unless such contact is voluntarily initiated by the victim(s) through the Department of Corrections. DOC staff may notify victims about the availability of opportunities for facilitated ...

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