HELENA — A Helena jury was unable to reach a verdict Wednesday in the case of a bartender charged with serving alcohol to an intoxicated woman who later killed two people in a drunken-driving crash.
Jurors did find William Gleed guilty of obstructing a peace officer, the Independent Record reported. A Montana Highway Patrol trooper testified that Gleed told officers to check two other bars for information on the driver.
Gleed, 57, was charged under a state law that says it is illegal for anyone to sell or give alcohol to someone who is “actually, apparently, or obviously intoxicated.”
Prosecutors alleged Gleed continued to serve Arielle Schescke, 22, and a man in the hours before a crash near East Helena last April that killed Mildred Richard, 51, and her granddaughter, Justine Smith, 16.
Jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict on the two alcohol charges.
Schescke is serving a 20-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide in the deaths of Richard and Smith. She testified that she was severely impaired when she left the bar after having five or six double vodka cranberry drinks. She said she only bought one drink.
Schescke’s sister and mother both testified that they had spoken with Schescke on the phone the night of the crash and said she sounded very drunk.
“She was very slurred with her speech. She was hard to understand,” her mother, Savannah Fawntane testified.
Defense attorney Wendy Holton argued Tuesday that prosecutors could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Gleed served alcohol to Schescke when she was apparently under the influence.
Gleed did not testify. He faces up to six months in jail and a $585 fine for the obstruction conviction.
County prosecutors could seek a retrial for the other two charges.
Heather Smith, the daughter of Richard and mother to Justine, filed a civil lawsuit in August naming O’Toole’s Bar and Lounge; the estate of its former owner, Joyce O’Toole; and Gleed, alleging Schescke was served alcohol at the bar despite being obviously intoxicated. The bar closed in December.
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