Troy man pleads guilty to felonies in assault, DUI incident

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A photo Colton Sheppard posted to social media before the May 15 incident. (File photo)

A Troy man has pleaded guilty in Montana 19th Judicial District Court to two felonies out of 12 original counts he was charged with after a May 15 alleged assault on a woman identified as his girlfriend.

Colton Sheppard pleaded guilty July 2 to strangulation of a partner or family member and aggravated assault, both felonies, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Monday, Aug. 13.

The original felony charges included alternative felony counts for attempted deliberate homicide or strangulation of a partner or family member, and the felony assault charge.

Charges he did not plead guilty to included felony theft for stealing his victim’s vehicle, a felony for a fourth or subsequent driving under the influence while driving that vehicle, and two misdemeanor and four felony charges for violation of an order of protection.

The misdemeanor protection order charges came from two phone calls made May 19 from the Lincoln County Detention Center to his victim. The felony charges came from three additional calls he made May 20 and an attempt to send her a letter “via a third party” between May 18 and 21.

At 11:08 p.m. May 15, Troy Police Officer Travis Miller was dispatched to Mineral Avenue for a woman reported standing in the middle of the road and screaming for help.

When Miller reached the scene, the woman ran up to his door begging for help, according to Miller’s affidavit.

The woman told Miller that her boyfriend had beaten her up. When he looked at her with better light, Miller discovered she was covered in blood and her nose and right ear were injured.

Miller transported the woman to safety, and questioned her while they waited for an ambulance. The woman identified Sheppard as her attacker. She said she had met him online, and that day had been the first time she had met him in person.

While Miller interviewed her, he took pictures of her injuries, noting that her right ear had been ripped all the way through and that she had deep puncture wounds behind her left ear and one on her nose.

The two were drinking together when Sheppard asked to use the woman’s cell phone to call his boss. The woman told Miller that Sheppard was upset by the number of men she had in her contacts.

The woman told Miller that Sheppard struck her in the face, and in the car on the way back to his apartment he continued to assault her, according to the affidavit. As the night went on, Sheppard allegedly hit, slapped and strangled the woman.

He also contacted one of the woman’s male friends through the Facetime App on her phone, and beat the woman while the friend watched.

When the woman attempted to leave, Sheppard took her phone and left in her car with a rope, telling her he intended to kill himself.

While Miller was talking with the woman, Troy dispatch informed him that Sheppard had driven into the Kootenai River. The victim was transported to Cabinet Peaks Medical Center, and Miller proceeded to the reported location of the car.

By that time, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputies John Davis and Jeff Streifline had arrived at Miller’s location, and the three proceeded to the boat ramp at Roosevelt Park.

The car was discovered in the river up to the front doors, but was unoccupied.

Deputies Brent Faulkner and Steve Short arrived to assist, and Streifline found Sheppard passed out under a bridge by the fishing pond.

Sheppard was transported to Cabinet Peaks Medical Center, and Short and Miller went to Sheppard’s apartment.

Miller’s affidavit states that they received permission from Sheppard’s probation officer to enter the apartment and take pictures, and there they found blood, hair and saliva on the floor.

There was also blood on the walls, door and almost every floor in the house. The front door was broken, and Miller reported a hole in the wall of one of the rooms.

When Miller and deputies went to Cabinet Peaks, Sheppard would not cooperate and “was very defiant,” according to the affidavit.

Miller noted that this Sheppard had been charged with strangulation previously by another police department.

According to court documents, during his phone calls from jail to the victim, Sheppard made admissions on recording that he was under the influence and “blacked out” when the incident took place.

Records from Cabinet Peaks cited by the prosecution documented two fractured vertebrae, a laceration to her right ear measuring just over a half inch that required seven stitches and “numerous contusions and lacerations.”

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