Kalispell Man Pleads Not Guilty to Vehicular Homicides

By Beacon Staff

The Kalispell man accused of drunkenly driving a Jeep that hit a truck head-on and killed two people in the crash pleaded not guilty to two homicide charges.

Joseph Leroy Powell, 46, appeared before Flathead County District Court Judge Robert Allison on Nov. 7, and his attorney Thane Johnson entered not guilty pleas to two counts of vehicular homicide while under the influence.

Powell, who is still in custody at the Flathead County Detention Center, was dressed in a jail uniform, and had a large cast on his arm, which was apparently broken in the Oct. 17 crash. He also walked with a limp, possibly a result of the dislocated hip he also sustained in the crash.

The crash resulted in the deaths of Kalispell men Brian Delaney, 43, and Patrick Moulton, also 43.

During the Nov. 7 hearing, the prosecution noted that the family members of one of the crash victims were present in the courtroom.

According to charging documents, Montana Highway Patrol troopers were dispatched to the scene of a crash on U.S. Highway 93, south of Kalispell at mile marker 107, on Oct. 17 at about 11 p.m.

Three troopers investigating the scene determined that Powell had been driving northbound in the southbound lane when his Jeep hit a pickup truck. The driver of that truck, Delaney, was declared dead at the scene.

A passenger in the Jeep driven by Powell, later identified Moulton, was taken to KRMC after the crash, but later died at the hospital.

The troopers reported making contact with Powell while he was in the hospital, and other than occasionally opening his eyes, he was largely unresponsive during the questioning.

The troopers reported that Powell smelled “of an alcoholic beverage” and that his eyes appeared bloodshot when he would open them.

The troopers said that they read the Montana Implied Consent to Powell and asked him several times if he understood.

Due to his unresponsiveness, a blood test was conducted and sent to the Montana State Crime Lab for analysis.

Powell was released from KRMC on Oct. 18, and taken into custody. Prosecutors say Powell agreed to speak with law enforcement, and “admitted to drinking several beers over the course of one to two hours preceding the collision.”

He remains in custody in Kalispell. If convicted of the two felony charges, Powell could face a maximum possible sentence of 30 years in prison and $50,000 for each count.

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