Murderers in Montana

by William Skink

If you want to brutally murder someone and not spend the rest of your life in prison, Montana seems like the place to do it.

Earlier this month a woman (oddly referred to in the title of the article as a “murderess”) was arrested in Hamilton for a DUI. While this woman luckily didn’t kill anyone with her car, in 1987 she did kill another woman by stabbing her 30 times in a motel room. Why? This woman stole her friend’s coat:

Redcrow, formerly of Hot Springs, was convicted in Missoula of the August 1987 murder of Marie Ila Richie, 22, who was stabbed to death in what was then the Sweet Rest Motel.

Richie angered Redcrow by stealing a jacket of Redcrow’s friend, Kathy Glover. The two women beat Richie as she walked west along the south bank of the Clark Fork River.

When police responded, they found Richie covered in blood, but she refused help.

Redcrow and Richie returned to a room at the Sweet Rest that Redcrow shared with her boyfriend, Paul Regudon. Once there, Redcrow stabbed Richie repeatedly while Regudon watched television, according to testimony at the trial in 1988.

Richie was stabbed more than 30 times before Redcrow and Regudon carried the body to a nearby island in the Clark Fork River, where they were found by police a short time later. Regudon was later acquitted of a charge of accountability to murder.

This brutal murder, a later escape from prison, and multiple parole violations didn’t stop our criminal justice system from putting this woman back on the streets. I found this part of the article particularly confusing:

Missoula County District Judge Doug Harkin sentenced Redcrow to 50 years in prison for deliberate homicide and another 10 for use of a weapon. He also designated her a dangerous offender, which meant she had to serve half her sentence, less good time, before being eligible for parole.

In 2000, the state Sentence Review Board increased Redcrow’s sentence from 60 years to 90 years, but suspended 40 years of the term. The result was her prison term was trimmed by 10 years, which made her eligible for parole earlier.

The second story in the paper today features a man who stabbed his wife in trouble for now threatening to stab his girlfriend:

A Missoula man who in 1990 was convicted of mitigated deliberate homicide for fatally stabbing his wife faces new charges for allegedly threatening to stab his girlfriend and her 25-year-old son early Saturday morning.

Frank Belmarez, 48, is charged with two counts of assault with a weapon.

Belmarez has been out of prison since 2011, and had been dating the victim for two years prior to the most recent assault.

According to charging documents, he came home to a residence on the 2100 block of Kensington Avenue early Saturday. He was reportedly intoxicated and wanted to continue drinking with his girlfriend, who was asleep in a bedroom.

When she refused his reportedly drunken request, Belmarez allegedly became angry and pulled out his folding knife.

“I’m going to stick you, then gut your son,” he allegedly said to her.

To contrast these killers and the freedom they somehow managed to acquire, we have the sad story of Barry Beach, serving 100 years without the chance to parole. Last month Beach lost at the Montana Supreme Court:

Montana’s Supreme Court dealt the latest blow to Barry Beach’s quest for freedom today –and again it was by a single vote.

In a 4-3 decision, the court ruled Beach should not be re-sentenced simply because he was a juvenile at the time of the 1979 murder of Poplar Montana valedictorian Kim Nees-the crime for which Beach is serving a sentence of 100 years without parole.

Beach confessed to killing Nees but soon afterwards insisted that confession was coerced by detectives in Louisiana, where he was picked up on a minor charge and later confessed to the Nees murder. No physical evidence connects Beach to the killing.

His case has captured international attention since Dateline began reporting on the case in 2008.

Dateline’s reporting turned up new witnesses, whose testimony led a judge in 2011 to order a new trial for Beach and to free him on bond.

After serving 27 years in prison, Beach was released in 2011 and lived and worked without incident in Billings, Montana for 18 months. But in 2013, Montana’s Supreme Court -again in a vote of 4-3–voided the decision to grant Beach a new trial and sent him back to the state prison in Deer Lodge, where he remains today.

I guess this is how we do “justice” in Montana.

Sometime this month a psychopath by the name of Kevin Lino will be sentenced for beating, torturing and executing a fellow homeless person under the Reserve Street bridge last summer. I wonder how quickly the state will try to put this killer back into our community? Stay tuned…


  1. All very interesting. That side of life holds a fascination for me. I used to eat Ann Rule books whole.

    There’s another type of murderer, the “desk murderer.” I think Hannah Arendt coined that phrase. This is the man in the tailored suit who orders death and mayhem on others and then goes off to a cocktail party in Georgetown. This would Bill Clinton for one, and Hillary aspires. Barack is one.

    Result is the same, bloody gruesome deaths.

  2. In a related story the “blade runner” Pistorius was released after spending less than a year in prison on a homicide charge.

  3. hardtruth

    Not convinced the sometimes cruel-and-unusual and the sometimes lean-and-lenient sentencing spectrum is at all oriented around state lines. A stronger argument might be made by analyzing the statistics regarding gender and ethnicity among judges. Lotta white males rubbing their bellies (instead of their foreheads) and handing out sentences (between racist e-mails to their guy pals) based on male menopause (at best) and chronic narrow-mindedness (at worst).




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