HELENA – One of the U.S. Senate candidates hoping to unseat Max Baucus in the fall has an outstanding warrant in Indiana for failing to appear in court as part of his probation on charges of stalking, harassment and invasion of privacy.
Shay Joshua Garnett, a political unknown who filed to run in the crowded Republican primary, was being sought by Purdue University Police Department for failing to meet the requirements of his sentence. Court records show Garnett spent about eight months in jail after pleading guilty to the misdemeanor charges.
Garnett, 34, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the whole incident stemmed from a time when he “was at a really low point” in his life. He said he does not believe he can clear up the warrant because of “bad blood” that exists between him and authorities in Indiana.
“It’s kind of a lost cause dealing with the state of Indiana,” Garnett said. “I’m pretty pessimistic of even attempting to deal with them.”
Garnett was being sought on a type of felony warrant that can only be enforced in Indiana and neighboring states, according to Purdue University police. As a result, Garnett cannot be extradited from Montana.
A call to Garnett’s attorney in Billings was not immediately returned.
Garnett, who grew up in Billings, studied mechanical engineering at Purdue University from 1992 until 1995 but did not graduate, according to school records. He says he completed a degree in 2001 at Montana State University, Billings.
In 1997, Garnett was charged in Tippecanoe County, Ind., with six misdemeanors stemming from incidents involving two female students at Purdue University. One of the women said Garnett had been sending her letters since the two met in a church group as freshmen. One was 120 pages long and contained physical threats and sexual references, according to police statements obtained by The Associated Press.
In one of the letters, Garnett said that he had written actresses Naomi Judd and Jodie Foster for help. He also asked one of the women to talk to his psychologist and convince the psychologist he was not “obsessed,” according to the police statements.
Garnett said Tuesday that the women took his letters the wrong way.
“She took it another way, and thought I was the most psychotic criminal out there,” he said.
Garnett eventually pleaded guilty and served time in jail. In 1998, Garnett was supposed to appear in court to prove he had finished court-ordered counseling as part of his plea agreement. When he did not, the warrant was issued.
Garnett said Tuesday that he could not remember if he completed the counseling. He said he received a correspondence from Purdue University police in 2005 asking him to address the warrant, a copy of which Garnett provided to The Associated Press.
“You would think that I would have been able to wrap things up after getting this,” Garnett said in an e-mail to the AP. “But I was not able to. So, I could either allow (authorities) to hold me hostage, or I could get on with life. I eventually ‘got on with life’ even though this was still ‘hanging over my head.'”
Garnett said he would continue his longshot campaign to win the Republican primary, although he acknowledged the old charges would probably harm his bid. He said he planned to campaign this weekend at Republican dinners in Carbon, Yellowstone and Stillwater counties.
The Montana Republican Party, which has a tradition of staying out of primary contests, said Garnett needs to address his legal issues.
“No one at the Montana Republican Party knows Mr. Garnett nor have we ever spoken to him about his candidacy,” said Jake Eaton, executive director of the state GOP. “The best course of action would be for Mr. Garnett to withdraw from the race and address his legal issues.”
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