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Suspect pleads innocent to series of burglaries

Suspect pleads innocent to series of burglaries

Second man to enter plea next week

One of two men charged with a long list of felonies in connection with burglaries in three western Montana counties entered innocent pleas to 12 charges in Missoula District Court on Wednesday.

Christopher Zachary Leonard, 44, of Missoula, pleaded innocent to burglarizing the Sevenar Store at Grant Creek and Interstate 90, Joe's Smoke Ring in Evaro, Frontier Conoco on West Broadway and the North Reserve Street Burger King. He also pleaded innocent to entering Wold's Grocery in Seeley Lake.

Leonard also entered innocent pleas to four felony criminal mischief charges and two theft charges in connection with the burglaries. He also pleaded innocent to a misdemeanor charge of possessing burglary tools.

In addition to four burglaries in Missoula County, Leonard and Craig Hunter Crain, 39, of Stevensville, face felony charges of burglary and criminal mischief in connection with burglaries in Flathead and Lake counties.

A third man, Ronald Mason, has pleaded innocent in Missoula Justice Court to two felony charges in connection with the Sevenar burglary. Crain is scheduled to enter a plea to identical charges as Leonard in Missoula County District Court next week.

Leonard and Crain were arrested March 26 after an informant told police they were involved in a string of what authorities characterized as professional-style burglaries because telephone lines, alarm systems and video surveillance cameras were disabled and a torch was used to open safes, according to court documents.

Leonard and Crain are being held in the Missoula County Detention Facility although District Judge Ed McLean said Wednesday he would consider lowering Leonard's bail after the completion of a pretrial screening.

Leonard is next scheduled to appear May 31.

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