Federal jury convicts Absarokee man of firearms charge
A federal jury on Tuesday convicted an Absarokee man of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Christopher Michael Emter, 37, is being held without bail pending his sentencing in October.
According to a press release issued by the Department of Justice, in January 2013 a Billings resident reported his vehicle had been broken into and two firearms had been stolen, one being a Sig Sauer .40 caliber pistol.
In February 2013, the Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office investigated nine vehicles that were broken into near Absarokee in which property valued at more than $2,400 was stolen, according to court documents filed in the 22nd Judicial District.
Credit cards stolen in those break-ins were used at local gas stations where video surveillance led local lawmen to identifying Emter as the suspect.
A search warrant was executed at the home in which Emter was living, during which he went to a bedroom -- against the direct orders of law enforcement -- locked the door and was found rummaging around the foot of the bed. Stillwater County Undersheriff Chip Kem found a fully loaded handgun in that location.
When a dispatcher told Kem the handgun was stolen, Emter bolted from the house and was caught four blocks away when deputies Tased him, according to court documents. The Sig Sauer stolen from Billings was found among Emter’s belongings in that room.
Emter was already a convicted felon at that time and he could not legally own any kind of firearm. His criminal record includes convictions for three counts of theft in Carbon and Yellowstone Counties in 2001, one count of criminal endangerment in Yellowstone County in 2007 and two probation violations, according to the Montana Department of Corrections.
Prior to trial, Emter had previously asked federal Judge Susan Watters to dismiss charges against him based on the contention that state and federal authorities had “colluded” together in order to build a stronger case, according to court documents.
“There is no evidence the federal government was involved in investigating the Stillwater thefts. There is no evidence the federal government ever talked to the Stillwater County charging prosecutor, Nancy Rohde, prior to this month,” wrote Judge Watters in her ruling issued Jan. 23.
Watters also rejected Emter’s contention that the firearm seized by Stillwater County Sheriff’s deputies at the time of his arrested was done so illegally and that his right to a speedy trial had been violated.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Lahr prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office.