2021 Crime in Missoula – 6,631 Cases Heard by County Attorney
Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst released the 2021 Crime Report on Friday, and KGVO News caught up with Pabst for her comments early Monday morning.
She said the overall number of prosecutions has been steadily rising over the past few years.
“We filed a total of 6639 cases in Missoula County this year,” said Pabst. “I think that's the highest number we've seen in some time. Most of our cases involve crimes against persons or crimes of violence, and that's unusual because that number has been slowly creeping up. 43percent of our cases involve crimes against persons or violent crimes and that was followed by property crimes at 18%, drug crimes at 18 percent, endangerment crimes at 14 percent and administrative crimes coming in at the bottom at 7 percent.”
Pabst said drug crimes have also greatly increased, but the drug causing the most concern coming from the southern border is fentanyl.
“Fentanyl is a drug that is just not something that should be messed around with because there's no margin for error,” she said. “It was actually designed as a tranquilizer for elephants and rhinoceroses. And it has saturated the drug trade at this point because it's so inexpensive for these drug trafficking operations.”
Pabst also pointed out some high profile cases that went to trial with successful prosecutions, starting with the case of Jonathan Bertsch.
“Jonathan Bertsch was finally sentenced,” she said. “Bertsch received four consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole for shooting four people; killing two and permanently injuring two including Trooper Wade Palmer. That was a protracted case, as you know, and you followed it very carefully. We were glad to get Mr. Bertsch behind bars where he belongs.”
Pabst provided more examples of high profile and successful prosecutions.
“Terrence Roberts was convicted at trial for attempting to kidnap a teenage victim at Brennan’s Wave,” she said. “Prosecutors Mack Bloom and Brittany Williams presented this case to the jury and they did a great job. Roberts was sentenced to 15 years in the Montana State Prison. Zachai Houk was convicted of deliberate homicide for shooting another man in the head over a marijuana transaction, and following a lengthy contested sentencing hearing, the court imposed a life sentence for Mr. Houk as well.”
Click above to see the entire 2021 Crime Report from the Missoula County Attorney’s Office.