A 24-year-old whose domestic abuse charges were dismissed by Missoula Justice of the Peace Marie Andersen last month after she became upset with his attorney for missing a court filing deadline was sentenced Tuesday after prosecutors appealed Andersen’s decision to toss the case out.
Missoula County District Court Judge Leslie Halligan, who is overseeing the appeal, gave Micah Lozier a one-year deferral of sentence, the same that Lozier had been set to receive in Missoula County Justice Court.
Lozier was charged with four misdemeanors, including two counts of partner assault, earlier this year following an incident at a home in January. According to court records, Lozier attacked a woman at her home, sending her to the hospital with a concussion and bruises.
In April, prosecutors offered a plea agreement to Lozier that was not accepted. On May 1 the two sides met in Justice Court and confirmed they would be going forward to a bench trial in front of Andersen.
But on May 31, the day before the trial, Lozier’s attorney proposed a counteroffer in plea negotiations, which prosecutor Ryan Mickelson accepted. Just before court closed for the day, Lozier’s attorney filed paperwork asking that the trial be vacated and that Lozier instead be allowed to come to court to plead guilty.
According to court records, Andersen did not allow him to do so, telling the defense attorney in court the next day that because his request was not filed with enough time, she was rejecting it.
The defense attorney, Brian Yowell, asked for his client to either be allowed to plead guilty or to reset the hearing for another time so the judge could consider the request. But according to the prosecution’s appeal, Andersen said no to both options, and instead dismissed the criminal case altogether.
On Tuesday, when Halligan was set to hear the case on appeal, Lozier came to court ready to plead guilty. Under the agreement, he pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of partner assault; the other three misdemeanor charges were dismissed.
Mickelson said the one-year deferral of sentence was the same conclusion that would have been recommended had Andersen allowed Lozier to change his plea in her court.
Under Halligan’s sentence, Lozier will pay a $100 fine and other court fees, and must obtain a drug and alcohol abuse evaluation and follow any recommendations for counseling it includes.
Lozier remains in custody under a Department of Corrections sentence he is serving for an unrelated case from Ravalli County.