A 27-year-old Texas man appeared Monday in Missoula District Court on charges relating to a violent drug robbery that involved several University of Montana football players.
Ronald Powell Jr., who for months was known to Missoula authorities only by the nickname "Dirty," was recently arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, on a Missoula County warrant. The warrant describes his alleged role in the Nov. 5 home invasion at 533 S. Sixth St. E., which left one man repeatedly pistol-whipped and a woman bound with duct tape.
According to court records, Powell was identified by another defendant as the suspect who allegedly did the pistol-whipping. Powell allegedly burst into the house along with his co-defendants, who wore ski masks and demanded drugs and money.
The men expected to steal 20 pounds of marijuana during the robbery, records state, but things went awry when one occupant of the house began to struggle with Powell and jumped out a window to escape.
Powell faces four felony charges: conspiracy to commit robbery, two counts of accountability for aggravated kidnapping and aggravated burglary. He will appear Thursday before District Judge John Larson for arraignment. Bail is set at $200,000.
Powell is the eighth man charged in the case. Five others, including Grizzly players Greg Coleman, Mike Shelton and Jeramy Pate, have pleaded guilty and received sentences to the Montana Department of Corrections. The other men sentenced in the case are Levi Woods and Mark Whetstone, while former UM football player Qwenton Freeman is awaiting trial.
Another defendant in the case, Donald J. Byrnes, was previously a UM student but fled to Ohio after the robbery. Byrnes turned himself in to Missoula authorities last month, then posted $15,000 bail. He is currently attending Ohio State University and dealing with the criminal charges from afar.
Other defendants told police that the plan called for Byrnes to go to the house in advance of the robbery, buy a quarter-pound of marijuana from the occupant, then relay information to the other men via cell phone text messages.
Reporter Tristan Scott can be reached at 523-5264 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.