Missoula County District Court Judge Robert “Dusty” Deschamps gave a 10-year suspended sentence Tuesday to a man who was involved in a shooting outside a Missoula apartment building earlier this year and who has since been in two different car chases with police.
The judge made the decision for the Department of Corrections sentence after being made aware of Cory Kendall’s history of traumatic brain injuries.
“I hope I’m doing the right thing here,” Deschamps told Kendall. “Don’t let me down. Don’t let yourself down.”
Kendall was first arrested and charged with felonies in April following a shooting outside a Missoula apartment complex in which he allegedly was involved. He posted his bond, was released, and arrested again in May after leading officers on a high-speed chase that reached speeds of more than 100 miles per hour from Bonner to Missoula and onto Interstate 90, gathering new felony charges along the way.
This summer, Kendall pleaded guilty to a set of charges from the cases, and was released to pretrial supervision until sentencing. In July, just over a week after being released, Kendall started yet another police chase through Missoula that ended when he ditched his car into the Clark Fork River near the Russell Street bridge. Kendall was charged with new misdemeanors for that pursuit.
After the most recent arrest, prosecutors said they would not be standing by the recommendation from the plea agreement they reached with Kendall, and in a hearing just after his third arrest this year, Deschamps also said he wasn’t likely to follow it.
The judge appears to have changed his mind after reading a lengthy memorandum written by Kendall’s attorney Shandor Badaruddin about Kendall’s traumatic brain injuries and need for long-term, inpatient treatment that he wouldn’t be able to get through the Department of Corrections. Badaruddin said Tuesday Kendall is trying to get a screening from a specialist sometime early next year so he can go to a brain injury treatment center, potentially in Texas.
Deschamps questioned why it wasn’t until after multiple arrests and felony charges that 44-year-old Kendall decided to get so interested in treatment. Badaruddin said his client never had the “appropriate motivation.”
“It took too long, but it’s not too late,” Badaruddin said.
Before releasing him back out into the public Deschamps said that without treatment, Kendall is a risk to have in the community, calling him “totally impulsive.”
“He just ricochets through life going from one bad decision to the next.”
The judge also questioned whether brain injury treatment would be able to do more than “dope him up like a zombie.”
Chief Deputy County Attorney Jason Marks said he agreed with Badaruddin that Kendall would benefit from brain injury treatment, but asked the judge to instead impose a Department of Corrections sentence that would put Kendall in drug treatment first, with a probation condition to get treated for his brain injuries.
Kendall, who had meth in his car when he was arrested in the May chase, told Deschamps he didn’t have a drug problem anymore. He also has a prior felony drug possession conviction for selling medical marijuana to his 16-year-old girlfriend in 2011. He received a deferred sentence in that case.
Deschamps decided to side with Kendall and Badaruddin’s proposed plan, saying the all-suspended decade-long sentence included requirements to get screened and treated for the brain injuries as well as go through drug treatment out of custody.