The drama was gone Tuesday, but District Judge John Henson still had unfinished business with James Gene Martin.

Martin, sentenced two weeks ago to spend the rest of his life in prison for shooting and paralyzing Missoula police Sgt. Bob Heinle, still had a felony theft charge pending. In fact, the charge was pending on Oct. 21, the day the 20-year-old Martin shot Heinle during a foot pursuit that started at the Western Security Bank, where Martin was trying to cash a forged check.

Back in July, Martin was charged with felony theft for stealing a 1981 Oldsmobile parked in downtown Missoula. Within hours of the theft, Martin and two young women were stopped by a Montana Highway Patrol officer working the outskirts of Butte. The car-theft case was placed on hold after Martin was accused of shooting Heinle.

With the Heinle shooting resolved - Martin was sentenced to life in prison plus 100 years, with no chance of parole - Henson moved to the theft case. In court Tuesday, Martin pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The prison term is meaningless, but for technicality's sake, Henson ordered the term to run concurrently with Martin's other sentence.

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Martin was convicted in early May of attempted deliberate homicide for shooting Heinle, who is paralyzed from the shoulders down. The jury also convicted Martin of five other felonies stemming from the shooting, including felony assault for pointing a pistol at Missoula County sheriff's Deputy Pat Turner, who was attempting to arrest Martin after the shooting.

With the felony theft charge resolved, Martin soon will be transferred to the state prison at Deer Lodge, where he'll spend the rest of his life.

Wednesday - 6/30/99

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