More than two years of detective work has led to charges of negligent homicide in the hit-and-run death of East Missoula resident Bronson Parsons.
Katie Irene Garding of Stevensville was accused on Tuesday by the Missoula County Attorney’s Office of felony negligent homicide, felony failure to stop at an accident scene, felony evidence tampering and misdemeanor driving without a license in connection with the Jan. 1, 2008, death of Parsons.
Parsons, 25, was walking to a friend’s house along Old Highway 200 in East Missoula for a New Year’s potluck dinner when he was struck from behind by a dark-colored sport-utility vehicle. The SUV did not stop. Parsons was taken to St. Patrick Hospital with a critical brain injury and died there. His organs were donated to five people.
According to an affidavit filed in Missoula County Justice Court on Tuesday, Montana Highway Patrol officers Rich Hader and Andy Novak kept looking for leads in the case. In December 2008, Hader got a tip. A friend of Garding’s told the patrolman Garding had brought her black Chevrolet Blazer to him for help fixing a broken turn signal and headlight the day of the incident. According to the affidavit, Garding told the friend she had hit a deer. He added that she later traded the SUV in shortly after fixing the lights.
Hader and Novak eventually located the Blazer, which still had tape on the headlight. They also got another tip from a man who claimed he was in the Blazer with Garding on Jan. 1, 2008. The man said he and another man in the vehicle were arguing over a handgun when he “felt the vehicle hit something,” according to the affidavit.
The troopers then met with Garding, who according to the affidavit, told them she was driving that night but denied hitting anything.
State Medical Examiner Gary Dale told the troopers that injuries on Parsons’ body matched the height of the Blazer they had found. Parsons’ pants also had a brownish-black line across the back of one leg at calf height.
Justice of the Peace Karen Orzech has ordered Garding to appear in court on March 30.
Reporter Rob Chaney can be reached at 523-5382 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.