Joseph Noel Best Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Billings on April 8, 2009, before Senior U.S. District Judge Jack D. Shanstrom, JOSEPH NOEL BEST, a 37-year-old resident of Billings, pled guilty to assault resulting in serious bodily injury. Sentencing is set for July 8, 2009. He is currently released on special conditions.
In an Offer of Proof filed by the United States, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
On the evening of July 15, 2008, officers responded to a motor vehicle accident at the 4-way intersection in Lame Deer.
BEST had been traveling at a high rate of speed, failed to stop at a stop sign, and struck another vehicle. The collision was so violent it spun the other vehicle in a complete circle.
Upon arrival, officers questioned BEST about the accident. BEST was visually intoxicated. He admitted he had been drinking at a local bar and was intoxicated. BEST failed the field sobriety tests and 41/2 hours after the accident, his blood alcohol level was still .155.
All the occupants in the vehicle were seriously injured in the accident. D.D.K. sustained multiple fractures to her legs and hips. J.B.M. received lacerations to his head and a "broken back" and is expected to have permanent paralysis. M.J.S. sustained a broken femur.
BEST faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lori Harper Suek prosecuted the case for the United States.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.