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State Supreme Court Reverses Strommen Conviction

Former Valley County Sheriff’s Deputy Luke Strommen had his convictions for sex crimes reversed April 30 and handed back for retrial.

A July 2020 jury trial found Strommen guilty of initiating a non-consensual sexual relationship with a victim when she was 14 and continued for years while working as a VCSO deputy. Judge John Larson sentenced Strommen to 40 years in the Montana State Prison in December 2020.

A split 4-2 decision by the Montana Supreme Court last month found that prosecutors failed to make a serious effort to present witness testimony in person during the pandemic, according to statute.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Beth Baker wrote that the issue wasn’t substantial enough for her to overturn the conviction. Baker was joined in her dissent by Chief Justice Mike McGrath.

A new trial has been ordered.

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