Submitted on Briefs: August 29, 2018
District Court of the Twenty-Second Judicial District, In and
For the County of Carbon, Cause No. DC 13-55 Honorable Blair
Jones, Presiding Judge
Appellant: Chad Wright, Appellate Defender, Lisa S.
Korchinski, Assistant Appellate Defender, Helena, Montana
Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Micheal
S. Wellenstein, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana
Alex Nixon, Carbon County Attorney, Red Lodge, Montana
McGrath, Chief Justice.
Pursuant to Section I, Paragraph 3(c), Montana Supreme Court
Internal Operating Rules, this case is decided by memorandum
opinion and shall not be cited and does not serve as
precedent. Its case title, cause number, and disposition
shall be included in this Court's quarterly list of
noncitable cases published in the Pacific Reporter and
Chad Christopher Heitkemper (Heitkemper) appeals from a
Twenty-Second Judicial District Court Sentence and Judgment
whereby the District Court sentenced Heitkemper to twenty
years in Montana State Prison with seven years suspended. We
On November 21, 2013, the State charged Heitkemper with
Sexual Assault, a felony, in violation of § 45-5-502 (1)
and (3), MCA, for allegedly touching the vaginal area of a
nine-year-old child without consent.
Heitkemper was released on bail and required to wear a GPS
tracking device. On January 23, 2014, the District Court held
a hearing on Heitkemper's motion to rescind the GPS
requirement, which was denied. At the hearing,
Heitkemper's attorney informed the court that Heitkemper
had a heart attack while in jail. He stated his belief that
Heitkemper "had a stint put in." Heitkemper
interrupted his attorney and stated, "Medical
On May 22, 2014, Heitkemper signed a § 46-12-211(1)(c),
MCA, plea agreement with the State, in which he agreed to
plead guilty to sexual assault. The parties agreed to a
fifteen-year commitment to the Department of Corrections
(DOC), with ten years suspended.
On May 29, 2014, the District Court held a change of plea
hearing and had an extensive colloquy with Heitkemper.
Heitkemper stated he understood the District Court was not
bound by the plea agreement, and if it imposed a greater
sentence, he would not be able to withdraw his guilty plea.
He acknowledged his satisfaction with the adequacy of his
attorney's assistance and stated he was not under the
influence of drugs or alcohol. The District Court accepted
Heitkemper's guilty plea to felony sexual assault and
ordered a presentence investigation report (PSI) and
psychosexual evaluation for Heitkemper. The PSI recommended
the court sentence Heitkemper to twenty years at the Montana
State Prison, with five years suspended.
On November 25, 2014, the District Court received a pro se
letter from Heitkemper asking the court to retract his guilty
plea and expressing "concerns" about his
attorney's representation. Heitkemper wrote,
In this letter, and the following, I will state to the best
of my ability my concerns, and questions. I have discussed
these with Mr. Paskell and there has been no direct answers.
. . . My first concern is of how much I can trust my own
counsel. On Jan. 21, 2014 I made an appearance in order to
request a bond reduction. At that time the Court was informed
that my heart contained a stint! It does not. . . .
Therefore I ...