Plea deal offers suspended sentence in fatal trailer fire

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — A Kalispell man who was charged with deliberate homicide after his father died in a trailer fire has reached a plea agreement on a lesser charge that recommends a five-year probationary sentence.

Jason Weldele, 42, was charged in the October death of Daniel Weldele, 63. Jason Weldele had acted erratically before and after the fire and investigators found evidence that potential exits in the house had been barricaded, court records said.

On Wednesday, Jason Weldele pleaded no contest to criminal endangerment, the Flathead Beacon reported.

Defense attorney Liam Gallagher said the case was overcharged and that Weldele was not administered a drug test or offered counsel in sufficient time to arrange for a drug test to be taken after the fire.

Jason Weldele had called law enforcement twice on Oct. 16, including reporting a fire just before midnight, according to the initial charges. Officers responded to the residence and found no fire. The fatal fire was reported just after 2 a.m. on Oct. 17, prosecutors said.

Gallagher had filed motions to dismiss the case arguing an unconstitutional amount of time passed between his client's arrest and when he was charged and that officers violated his Miranda rights when he was initially interviewed.

District Judge Amy Eddy scheduled Weldele's sentencing for Feb. 18.