Probationer gets another chance, despite violations

Marlo Pronovost
Thursday, September 19, 2019
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A man who admitted to violating the terms of his condition multiple times in multiple ways is getting another chance to fly straight.

Matthew Kitchens, 29, appeared in 22nd Judicial District Court last week on a revocation hearing stemming from his use of methamphetamine, moving without the permission of his probation officer, failing to show up for drug testing and failing to obey the law by receiving five citations in Stillwater County Justice Court.

Stillwater County Attorney Nancy Attorney presented her sentencing recommendation by first saying it “was not the recommendation I was going to make to the court today.” Rohde’s recommendation was to reinstate Kitchen’s original 4-year sentence to the Montana Department of Corrections, with all of that time suspended. Kitchen also still owes $37,000 in restitution from the original case, having paid $8,000 during the last two years. She did not elaborate on what her original recommendation was going to be.

Judge Matt Wald appeared to have some pause with the joint recommendation, saying “I don’t want to say reluctantly…” when speaking of it. Ultimately, Wald did honor the plea agreement.

“I hope you take full advantage of this,” Wald told Kitchens.

Moments earlier, Kitchens had said he was going to do everything in his life to “stay sober,” saying he had four children.

Wald said the sentence acknowledges the strides Kitchens has made in paying the restitution while providing community protection and accountability through his supervision. Wald also said the sentence gives him options should Kitchens violate his probation again.

Kitchens pleaded guilty to felony criminal endangerment and misdemeanor assault in connection to a December 2015 Absarokee bar fight in which a man’s leg was broken. The restitution is for the victim’s medical bills.