Home  - September 15 article
Friday, July 21, 2006
Beacht gets six years deferred for negligent homicide
by LUELLA N. BRIEN - Ravalli Republic

Christopher Beacht was sentenced Thursday to 30 days in the Ravalli County Detention Center for the negligent homicide of Bo Storms. Beacht avoided a 20-year Montana State Prison commitment, due primarily to the recommendation of the Storms family.

Beacht also received a six-year deferred sentence, was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine to the Montana Highway Patrol DUI Task Force and $2,737.95 in restitution to the victim's family. He was ordered to serve 100 hours or more in community service each year of his deferred sentence, most likely in the form of public speaking engagements.

Beacht's defense attorney, Milton Datsopoulos, called four witnesses to the stand to testify on behalf of Beacht.

Hamilton High School basketball coach, Joe Jessop, said he was shocked when he heard about the accident because of Beacht's integrity, leadership and responsible nature.

“Christopher was the last person on my mind when this happened,” Jessop said. “I didn't expect to be here in this capacity with one of my boys, but I'm proud to be here.”

Other witnesses shared Jessop's opinion about Beacht

“Christopher is a wonderful boy and he's suffered greatly because of what has happened,” said Nancy Schueler. Beacht is friends with Schueler's twin sons, and was on the swim team with them.

“I've always found him to be very respectful to his parents and to other parents,” Schueler said.

Family friend, Tom Anderson, said that Beacht has always been a conscientious kid.

“He could have gone to any college he wanted to and been successful,” Anderson said. “He has taken ownership of this and he's done great things since. I know he's going to put up with this for the rest of his life, morning and night.”

Datsopoulos argued for a six-year deferred sentence, community service, restitution and house arrest.

Deputy County Attorney William Fulbright argued for 30 days in county jail. “Like I said at the Brawley sentencing, in a case where a young man lost his life I don't think it's appropriate to just walk out of the court room.”

In addition to county jail time the state argued for a six-year deferred sentence.

“He is a quality young man, but this hearing isn't only about Christopher Beacht. It's also about Bo Storms,” Fulbright said.

County jail time will serve as a small preview of what Christopher Beacht could face if he decides that the provisions of his deferred sentence are not important, Fulbright said.

District Court Judge James Haynes said that Beacht received the sentence because of his age and the fact that he took responsibility so quickly after the accident happened.

“You have the unique opportunity to see how you make an impact in the community,” Haynes said. “This is your task. Hopefully you can embrace it and do it well.”