Alleged Bigfork Burglar to Stand Trial

Kalispell man charged with burglary last year rejected a plea deal and will stand trial in August

By Justin Franz

A Kalispell man accused of breaking into at least six Bigfork businesses was set to plead guilty this week before he decided to forgo a plea agreement and stand trial this summer.

According to court documents, in February 2014, Shane Christensen and Severin Gislason were each charged with six counts of burglary and one count of deceptive practices, all felonies, after police arrested the two following a string of burglaries. The two men allegedly broke into and took cash and items from Bigfork United Rentals, the Senior Center, Albiero Chiropractic, Waterstreet Company, Clayton’s Dentist Office and Nelson Electric.

Among the items the two reportedly stole was a credit card and police were able to track the card as the two men used it. They then recovered video footage of the suspects and with the help of the public identified them within a few days.

In November, Gislason took a plea deal and pleaded guilty to burglary and deceptive practices. The judge imposed a five-year deferred sentence for both charges to run consecutively.

On March 12, Christensen was scheduled to plead guilty to two amended charges, accountability to deceptive practices and criminal endangerment, both felonies. The criminal endangerment charge stems from another case involving Christensen. However, not long before his change of plea hearing before District Court Judge David Ortley, Christensen changed his mind. He will now stand trial sometime in August.

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