A September trial has been set in federal court for the suspects charged in the late May robbery of a Missoula gas station in which a family was taken hostage and police were led on a high-speed chase.
Four people are now charged in the case after federal prosecutors indicted Hannah Nichole Parker in June.
All four – Parker, Thomas Earl Dempsey, Nick West and Carissa Lynn Kopp – face five counts of kidnapping as well as robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and two charges relating to the possession of a firearm during a crime. West and Dempsey each face another charge of possession of a firearm as a convicted felon.
Following a conference in U.S. District Court in Missoula on Wednesday, chief Judge Dana Christensen set a Sept. 12 trial date for the four codefendants.
Dempsey and West were arrested the afternoon of May 27 after the early morning incident that started at Deano’s gas station on West Harrier Street.
Prosecutors say Kopp, West’s girlfriend, drove the men to Deano’s and dropped them off at a nearby Interstate 90 off ramp. Parker, identified in the indictment as Dempsey's girlfriend, also was in the vehicle.
Just after 3 a.m., the men entered the gas station brandishing handguns and ordered an employee to give them money.
After a man and his son came into the store, Dempsey ordered them to leave, according to the federal indictment. The father and son went back to their SUV parked out front, which also contained the man’s wife, daughter and mother-in-law. His wife called 911 to report the crime and the family drove to a nearby on-ramp. While they were still on the phone with authorities, Dempsey and West allegedly pulled the doors of the vehicle open and pointed their guns at the family.
The men got into the SUV and ordered the family to drive away, starting a chase with law enforcement that wound through Missoula as Dempsey allegedly fired out the window at a pursuing deputy.
The vehicle stopped twice during the chase, when first one child and then the other and their grandmother were released. The indictment said Dempsey and West had the parents drive to Sweetgrass Lane on U.S. Highway 93, where they got out and were later picked up by Dempsey’s wife, who has not been charged.
With the help of a specialist from the FBI, Missoula law enforcement arrested both men later that day.