Probationer charged with felony DUI, bond total set at $100,000

By: 
Marlo Pronovost
Thursday, April 11, 2019

A Billings man already on probation for felony DUI had denied driving drunk in Stillwater County.

Johnny Chyrl Rankin, 47, appeared in district court last week and pleaded not guilty to felony DUI, a fifth offense, and one misdemeanor count of driving with a suspended or revoked license.

Rankin is on probation out of Richland County, where authorities have filed a petition to revoke that case based on the Stillwater County charge, said Stillwater County Attorney Nancy Rohde. The Richland County bond was set at $50,000 and Rohde requested an additional $50,000 bond, to run consecutively.

Her reasons for wanting the consecutive bond included Rankin being “very aggressive” towards law enforcement when he was arrested, as well as the fact that he currently has several warrants out of Yellowstone County. Rohde also said there is a question about Rankin having a weapon, which is prohibited under the terms of probation, and dishonest statements made to his probation officer.

District Judge Matt Wald imposed an additional $50,000 bond, bringing Rankin’s total bond amount to more than $100,000.

As of Wednesday, Rankin remained in jail.

THE CASE

On March 5 shortly before 9 p.m., MHP Trooper Brandon Timm was sent to check on a truck that had slid off Bokma Road and was stuck in the snow with the driver slumped over the wheel, according to court documents.

Upon arrival, Timm found two men there who told him their friend had called for a ride after getting stuck. Rankin was asked to step out of the truck and “appeared to have difficulty balancing,” according to court documents.

When asked what had happened, Rankin said “it was like, uhh, 12 hours ago.” The trooper noted that Rankin’s speech was slurred and that he smelled of alcohol.

Rankin’s friends who had responded to the scene told the trooper that Rankin was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who was “going through some problems in his life,” according to court documents.

Rankin said he had consumed a couple of beers after getting stuck in the snow and had been waiting for his friends to come get him for about six hours. The trooper found just one can of beer on the floorboard.

On the way to the Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office, Rankin allegedly made comments, including “They” were going to kill him and that “This is going to end badly,” according to court documents. Rankin also told the trooper to keep a close watch on him “because they are going to try and hurt me.”

As Trooper Timm was preparing to remove Rankin’s handcuffs, Rankin made more statements that caused the trooper to be concerned with his state of mind. The trooper decided to not remove Rankin’s handcuffs and also asked Columbus Police Officer Jason Ferguson to respond.

Officer Ferguson is a former Marine and Trooper Timm hoped that Rankin might be able to relate to Ferguson more readily, according to court documents. After speaking with Rankin, Officer Ferguson told Trooper Timm that Rankin “made the comment that he was trained in taking weapons away from people,” according to court documents.

Rankin showed signs of impairment on several tests and refused to provide a breath sample. A search warrant was obtained for a blood test and when informed of this, Rankin said that no one could take his blood and became “standoffish and stood up,” initially refusing to sit back down when told to do so.

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