The 21-year-old man accused of driving his truck through the wall of a home south of Kalispell in June, killing a sleeping resident inside, entered a not guilty plea to a single count of vehicular homicide while under the influence in Flathead County District Court on Thursday.
Thomas Owen Lefevre appeared in front of District Judge Heidi Ulbricht in a blue dress shirt and light blue disposable face mask, entering his plea of not guilty during a brief hearing. He was joined in the courtroom by his attorneys and nearly a dozen members of the family of Ronald Dale Meier, who was fatally injured when Lefevre’s truck crashed through the bedroom wall while he was asleep on night of June 20.
Lefevre could face up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 if he is convicted. He is expected to stand trial in January 2021.
Lefevre, who attends college in Arizona, has been out on a $500,000 property bond since June 30. Greg and Robin Lefevre and Robert Martin Calfee III offered property near Rollins worth an estimated $1.1 million to secure his release. Lefevre is attending school remotely and staying with family in Flathead County.
According to court documents, Montana Highway Patrol troopers arrived at a home on Rocky Cliff Drive south of Kalispell just before midnight on June 20 and discovered a white pickup inside the house. The pickup’s driver, Lefevre, was found sitting in a chair in the living room and “obviously impaired,” according to law enforcement. A woman at the home told troopers that the pickup had driven into the house and entered the bedroom where her husband was sleeping.
In later interviews with law enforcement, Lefevre, who was 20 years old at the time of the accident, allegedly admitted he had been drinking and acknowledged he “f—d up and should not have been driving.” Several hours after the crash, Lefevre agreed to a provide a blood sample in order to measure his blood alcohol content. Results of that test have not been made public.
Lefevre is also facing a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Meier’s wife and two children. Those filings claim the 59-year-old Meier “survived an appreciable period of time and suffered an excruciatingly painful death” on June 21. The suit asks for unspecified damages for medical and funeral expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and a loss of “society, companionship, comfort, love and affection.” The civil case is not expected to reach trial until next year.
Paul Sandry, who is representing the Meiers in the civil suit, said the family is still struggling to make sense of the accident.
“(Londa Meier) had been married to the guy for 37 years,” Sandry said. “It’s tough for them. It’s been a really difficult time.”
Lefevre’s attorney, Sean Hinchey, said his client has completed an impatient chemical dependency treatment program since the accident and that he is continuing to seek treatment. He added that Lefevre is “shattered by the irreversible impact of his actions.”
“(Lefevre) is heartbroken by what has happened,” Hinchey said. “At the young age of 21, he now thinks about, and will continue to think about, Mr. Meier, Mr. Meier’s family and the devastation he caused for the rest of his life.”
The accident is the second such fatal crash in Flathead County in just over a year. Jared Allen Parsons was charged for a similar incident in April 2019 when he drove his truck into a home in Evergreen, killing a 15-year-old Columbia Falls High School student while she slept. In May, Parsons pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 17 years in prison with 10 of those years suspended. Parsons was transferred to the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge earlier this month.
Lefevre’s next court appearance is Nov. 10.