Two Marion men who were originally charged with a hate crime for their role in a confrontation with migrant mushroom pickers from Asia were sentenced Thursday to time served for misdemeanor disorderly conduct.
Edward L. Hubbs, 27, pleaded no contest to the charge and was sentenced to a 10-day suspended jail term. During a separate hearing in Flathead County District Court on Thursday, 47-year-old Karl Trent pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge and was given a 30-day deferred sentence.
Both men had already served that time after they were arrested for the July confrontation with a group of Laotian, Cambodian and Thai morel mushroom pickers at a campground in Marion.
A third man implicated in the incident, 26-year-old Daniel J. Devine, pleaded guilty Feb. 12 to misdemeanor disorderly conduct and was given a suspended 10-day jail term.
The three men originally were charged with malicious intimidation or harassment relating to civil or human rights, a felony. But the charges were later reduced.
“That’s the lowest misdemeanor we have, if that gives you any indication of the strength of the state’s case,” said Hubbs’ attorney, Lane K. Bennett.
Authorities say the trio were among about half a dozen men who drove to the mushroom pickers’ campsite the night of July 12.
Prosecutors initially said that during the disturbance beer bottles were thrown, shots were fired into the air, and racial slurs were uttered — an allegation the men denied. According to investigators, the altercation at the campsite followed a confrontation between Hubbs and the group of mushroom pickers at a convenience store earlier in the evening.
Flathead County Attorney Ed Corrigan said he reduced the charges, in part, because the mushroom pickers aren’t available as witnesses.
“The victims in this offense — to the extent that they were victims, and I’m less and less convinced that they are — are not available,” he said. “We simply don’t have enough evidence to go to trial.”
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.