Evergreen Woman Appealing Sentence in Fatal Crash

By Beacon Staff

An attorney for an Evergreen woman is appealing her sentence for a fatal head-on crash to the Montana Supreme Court.

Attorney David Stufft also asked the Montana Supreme Court to appoint the office of appellate defender to represent Justine Winter during the appeals process.

Winter, 18, was convicted Feb. 3 of two counts of deliberate homicide in the March 19, 2009, deaths of Erin Thompson, 35, of Columbia Falls, and her 13-year-old son, Caden Odell.

Prosecutors alleged Winter had argued with her boyfriend that night, threatened to crash her car and kill herself in text messages to him, then intentionally crossed the center line into the path of the victims’ vehicle. Court records say she was traveling at 85 mph in a construction zone when her vehicle struck Thompson’s.

Winter was sentenced in June to 15 years with the Department of Corrections, and must serve half that time before being eligible for parole. She is currently being held at the Montana Women’s Prison in Billings.

Stufft also told the court he had spent the past two years on Winter’s case, she has no assets or job, and he doesn’t have the ability to finance the appeal on a pro bono basis.

“The legal fees that will be associated with the preparation and filing of the necessary appellate briefs will be significant,” Stufft wrote in a notice filed Monday.

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