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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Montana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 8, 2018

Poplar couple sentenced in assault for driving vehicle into group of pedestrians

GREAT FALLS—A Poplar couple who admitted assault charges for driving a vehicle into a group of pedestrians, seriously injuring one, in a drug debt dispute were sentenced to years in federal prison this week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.

U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris sentenced Ashley Nicole Vondall, 26, on Wednesday to 40 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Morris sentenced co-defendant Jonathan Damstrom Cantrell, 33, on Thursday to 38 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

Vondall and Cantrell each pleaded guilty in July to assault resulting in serious bodily injury.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Betley said in court records that the assault occurred on Oct. 24, 2017 as Cantrell and his girlfriend, Vondall, were drinking and driving around Poplar, on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Cantrell was driving a Jeep, while Vondall sat in the front passenger seat. Vondall told investigators she had consumed 14 to 16 cans of Mike’s Harder Lemonade that day.

Vondall had previously been in a dispute regarding a $100 drug debt for methamphetamine with one of the pedestrians in the group.

While driving around Poplar, Cantrell and Vondall saw a group of five people walking down the street, including the person involved in the drug debt dispute. Cantrell stopped the Jeep, Vondall got out and then engaged in a fight with the group. Vondall got back into the Jeep and Cantrell turned the vehicle around.

Witness interviews revealed that Vondall yelled, “Hit them bitches!” and Cantrell plowed through the group with Jeep. A video recording from a nearby surveillance camera showed the Jeep drove straight at the group. Upon impact, bodies flew into the air before hitting the ground. One victim remained motionless in the street. The Jeep flipped onto its top, and Vondall and Cantrell took off running.

The victim was taken by ambulance to the local hospital and then flown to Billings for further treatment. The victim suffered a head injury, collapsed lung and multiple other injuries and fractures.

Two others in the group were treated for injuries at the hospital and released.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Betley prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the FBI and Fort Peck Criminal Investigations.

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Clair Johnson Howard Public Information Officer (406) 247-4623
Updated November 8, 2018