Glendive murder suspect pleads guilty
By Jason Stuart
Ranger-Review Staff Writer
One of the suspects in the December 2012 murder of Glendive resident Matthew Wiseman has entered a plea agreement with prosecutors in exchange for her testimony at trial against her co-defendant in the case.
Jessica Ann Miller-Grossman, 24, accepted the terms of the plea agreement on Feb. 20 in a deal approved by District Judge Richard Simonton.
Per the plea agreement, Miller-Grossman entered a plea of guilty to the charges of mitigated deliberate homicide by accountability, arson by accountability and tampering with evidence by accountability. Prosecutors agreed to drop the final two felony charges of criminal mischief and obstruction of justice.
As part of the deal, prosecutors are recommending a prison sentence for Miller-Grossman of 40 years with the last 25 years suspended in the Montana Women’s Prison for the homicide charge.
The agreement further stipulates that the court is bound to impose a sentence of no more than 40 years with the last 15 years suspended and that there be a parole restriction of no more than seven years.
If convicted at trial, Miller-Grossman could have faced a sentence of life in prison for the homicide charge.
The plea agreement recommends a sentence of 10 years for each of the other two felony counts with those sentences to run concurrently with the sentence for the homicide charge.
In return for leniency, Grossman-Miller agreed to testify against co-defendant Levi Stark, her former boyfriend.
Stark’s trial was set to begin March 10 in Glendive. However, in light of Miller-Grossman’s unexpected plea agreement, prosecutors asked Simonton on Tuesday to push the trial back to a later date.
Miller-Grossman was debriefed by state investigators in Billings last Friday, and assistant attorney general Joel Thompson told Simonton via video conference that had caused a “quite large change in the facts and strategy” of the prosecution’s case against Stark.
“Based on that debrief, several avenues of follow-up investigation have been identified,” Thompson said.
Stark’s defense attorney, Matt Wald, objected to delaying the trial, arguing that the timing of Miller-Grossman’s plea agreement was under the prosecution’s control and that his client had been in prison awaiting trial long enough.
Thompson replied that the plea agreement with Miller-Grossman was outside the prosecution’s control, the idea to seek a deal having been first reached between her and her attorneys without the prosecution’s involvement.
“Certainly what happened last Thursday was not anticipated by the court,” he said, further arguing that Miller-Grossman’s decision to strike a plea agreement and cooperate with investigators changed “the circumstances of how the case is prosecuted and defended.”
Simonton set a new trial date for Stark of May 5.
Stark and Miller-Grossman are accused of murdering Wiseman the night of Dec. 21, 2012.
Wiseman was found dead on the porch of his trailer home in the Casitas del Rio Trailer Park by his wife, Kelsea Wiseman. He was found lying in a pool of blood having suffered several stab wounds. An autopsy confirmed he died of multiple stab wounds to the neck.
According to court documents, investigators came to believe through testimony given by witnesses during the investigation that Stark and Miller-Grossman killed Wiseman because they believed he had informed law enforcement about drug trafficking the pair was engaged in.
The arson and tampering with evidence charges in the case stem from the burning of a Ford Bronco allegedly used by the pair the night of Wiseman’s murder.
According to court documents, investigators believe Stark broke into the impound lot at the Dawson County Law Enforcement Center and set fire to the vehicle while Miller-Grossman created a diversion intended to draw police attention away from the area.
According to court documents, it’s believed Stark and Miller-Grossman burned the Bronco because they feared it might contain blood residue or other evidence that could link them to Wiseman’s murder.
Reach Jason Stuart at firstname.lastname@example.org.