BOZEMAN, Mont. - It has been one week since a convicted felon from Gallatin County skipped out on a meeting with his probation officer, and a chance to avoid prison.
We have been following the case of Matthew Brandemihl since last summer, when he led police on a high-speed chase across two counties.
When he was sentenced last month, the judge told him if he messed up his treatment court, she would send him straight to prison. Right now Brandemihl is on the run with no kind of electronic monitoring device, and nobody seems to know where he is.
Thursday afternoon we sat down with Steve Ette, the director of court services in Gallatin County. He tells us Brandemihl's situation is rare, and he has only seen it one other time in four years. He tells us usually people at least attend one court date before making a mistake.
Brandemihl is also supposed to show up to Gallatin County Treatment Court Friday morning. Even if he does make it to that, he now has bigger problems to deal with. A $500,000 warrant is out for his arrest out of Judge Holly Brown's courtroom. She is the same judge who warned Brandemihl if he makes one wrong move, she will send him straight to prison.
"It's disappointing," said Ette.
Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert tells us he is not necessarily surprised by Brandemihl's actions.
"It is not unusual at all to see folks relapse, drug abuse and alcohol abuse are very difficult to overcome," said Lambert.
Lambert is the one person who has a veto power, meaning he could have said 'no' to Brandemihl going to treatment court. However he agreed with the treatment court team that it was the right move.
"The team recommended his placement and I agreed with his placement in treatment court," said Lambert.
We have video showing Brandemihl walking out of the woods, after leading authorities on a high-speed chase across two counties. We asked Lambert if there was any prior consideration of Brandemihl being a flight risk.
"It would be, but given his age and the circumstances I'm not certain that there was any indication of that," said Lambert.
Ette says that Brandemihl's disappearance is not slowing the process down. One other applicant is set to begin treatment court on Friday, and 11 other applications are currently being processed. He is just hoping Brandemihl will show up sooner rather than later.
"When he is found maybe it will shed a little light on what his decisions were that prompted him to do this," said Ette.
We also reached out to Judge Holly Brown, who says she cannot comment on the pending case.
We will continue to follow up after treatment court on Friday to see if Brandemihl shows. If he does not, we are told he will most likely be terminated from the treatment court program.
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