POLSON – A Polson man once charged with trying to hire a hit man to kill his former girlfriend so she could not testify against him was sentenced Wednesday to 50 years in prison for sexually assaulting her.
But first, Dennis Jay Hobbs will be returned to Idaho, where he has nine years remaining on sentences for other felony convictions, and where he had been placed on parole prior to getting in trouble in Polson.
Montana District Court Judge James Manley denied Hobbs’ request to have the remaining Idaho sentence run concurrently with his new Montana sentence.
“To give you a pass on the Idaho charges by making that sentence concurrent is something you’re not entitled to,” Manley told the 57-year-old Hobbs.
Instead, the judge said, “The victim is entitled to go to sleep at night knowing she’s not in danger as long as Mr. Hobbs is in prison.“
Manley cited Hobbs’ long criminal history and called him “a severe danger to the community” in handing down the sentence.
“There’s no sense in lecturing you,” Manley said. “You don’t appear to feel any remorse, or be capable of feeling remorse, and you have no sense of responsibility for anything you have done.”
The judge also ordered a letter from the victim that is sealed by the court be released to Lake County Attorney Mitch Young and County Attorney-elect Steve Eschenbacher, who defeated Young in the June Republican primary and faces no opposition in the general election. The letter apparently addresses, in part, details of the rape that were included in a public charging affidavit.
“The first four to five pages of the affidavit have nothing to do with probable cause,” said Manley, who went on to say he felt Young and Eschenbacher should read the victim’s letter “so no other victim is subjected to re-abuse.”
Hobbs was sentenced for four felonies Wednesday – two counts of sexual intercourse without consent, one count of tampering with witnesses and informants, and one count of stalking.
He got 50 years for each of the sexual-intercourse-without-consent guilty pleas, 10 years for tampering with witnesses and 5 years for stalking, with no time suspended on any.
Those sentences will, however, run concurrently, as called for in the plea agreement Manley accepted. In exchange for the guilty pleas, prosecutors earlier dropped a solicitation-of-murder charge, and another for assault with a weapon that allegedly occurred during the rape.
The judge also fined Hobbs a total of $160,000, and suspended the fine.
He said he was not deviating from the plea agreement to ensure the victim did not have to testify at a trial.
After he serves out whatever time Idaho requires, the earliest Hobbs would be eligible for parole in Montana would be after he has done 12 ½ years of the 50-year sentence.
Ben Anciaux, Hobbs’ attorney, had argued that Hobbs had pleaded guilty so the victim would not have to testify, and that if the Idaho and Montana sentences ran consecutively rather than concurrently, Hobbs could be in prison until he was nearing the age of 80, or “for the rest of his life, essentially.”
Anciaux also questioned some of the restrictions included if Hobbs is one day released on probation.
The attorney argued that provisions ordering Hobbs to have no contact with children under the age of 18 “have nothing remotely to do with this case. He’s not here on an incest charge or an under-age charge, nor did his psychological evaluation” indicate he was a threat to children, Anciaux said.
Deputy Lake County Attorney Jessica Cole-Hodgkinson replied that Hobbs had “monitored soccer games” and kept track of his victim’s children while out on bail and awaiting trial on the rape charges.
It was during that time the state had also once alleged Hobbs tried to hire someone to kill his ex-girlfriend. Payment for the murder, court documents stated, would have come in the form of a map to an “isolated residence filled with guns, coins and other expensive items. The killer would be allowed to go to the residence and help himself.”
The two sides agreed to change the no-contact-with-children provisions to Hobbs having no contact with the victim’s children if he is paroled.
Manley shot down an attempt by Hobbs to limit questions he might be asked by probation officers in polygraph tests.
Anciaux pointed out that Hobbs’ felony convictions in Idaho did not include one for kidnapping, as stated in court documents, but rather for false imprisonment.
While unsuccessfully requesting that the Idaho and Montana sentences run concurrently, Anciaux said Hobbs has a son who is in prison in Idaho, and Hobbs hoped to serve his time there so that he might have some contact with his child.