Probationer jailed after being found at shooting crime scene with two firearms

Thursday, December 31, 2020
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Jessica Rae Phelps (DOC photo)

A woman has been jailed for allegedly violating her probation after recently being found at the scene of a shooting in Billings and in possession of firearms.

Jessica Rae Phelps, 28, appeared before 22nd Judicial District Judge Matt Wald last week via video from the Yellowstone County Detention Facility and denied violating the terms of her 2019 probation from a drug case.

Specifically, Phelps denied being a felon in possession of a firearm, resisting arrest at a crime scene in Billings and failing to report to her probation officer.

Stillwater County Attorney Nancy Rohde requested a $20,000 bond amount based on the allegation that Phelps had absconded from probation and the fact that she was found at the scene of a shooting and in possession of two firearms.

Wald set bail at $20,000, noting that Phelps’ alleged behavior demonstrated “pretty much a complete failure” to follow probation. Wald also called the fact that Phelps was found at a crime scene and with guns “very concerning.”

Wald put Phelps on probation in January 2019 with a warning that if she did not get a hold of her methamphetamine problem, she would not make it as a productive member of society.

Had Phelps stayed out of trouble for three years, the felony conviction could have been cleared from her record. Under the terms of her probation, she was prohibited from owning or being in possession of firearms and was also ordered to regularly report to her probation officer.

COMPLICATED HISTORY

Phelps’ first round of trouble locally started in 2016 when she was arrested for Partner/Family Member Assault (PFMA) by Columbus Police, and then arrested on another PFMA the following year by the Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office.

Because she already had a PFMA conviction on her record in North Dakota, the third PFMA case handled by deputies was a felony, and charged as such.

However, the 2016 Columbus PFMA case involved a deferred prosecution, and although Phelps violated the sentencing conditions and the charge was reinstated, the then-city prosecutor amended it to simple assault. That made the county’s 2017 PFMA case a misdemeanor. Phelps was sentenced on that charge in October 2017.

In June of 2018, Phelps was arrested on a warrant for failure to comply with the conditions of the 2016 city court case. When she was taken to the Yellowstone County Detention Facility, authorities found methamphetamine on her, prompting the felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs charge.