Justice feels bad for non-burglar Griz

The Griz, um, lineup

The Griz, uh, lineup

For a thrilling 48 hours last week, it looked like the county attorney might make Missoula weird again. That was the period after Kirsten Pabst intervened in the case of three Grizzly football players and two other UM students arrested for felony, but before we knew what they did. The hearing was rescheduled for Tuesday, then Wednesday. Meanwhile, local news ran player stats instead of information about the crime. Only the Kaiman—the University of Montana’s student newspaper, recently cut back to a weekly—knew the circumstances of their arrest.

It turned out those three big, dumb kids and one regular dumb kid thought the house was unoccupied, and confined their burglary to the part that was under construction. They climbed a ladder to get in, whereupon the homeowner dialed 911. Literally one minute later, their ride arrived, and they left the house with a case of beer. Then came the cops.

Was that felony burglary? I hope not. They seemed to think they were stealing beer from a construction site, which is bad but maybe not felony bad. People who steal beer from construction sites should probably be allowed to vote.1 The should be allowed to finish college and pass criminal background checks when they apply for jobs. Kirsten Pabst made a just decision when she reduced those kids’ charges to misdemeanor trespassing.

So why didn’t it feel good?

I can think of some reasons why not, and you can read all about them in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. We had a perfect snafu in our little mountain town the weekend before last, and it reminded us how crooked this place feels, even when it isn’t.

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