- Associated Press - Friday, April 10, 2015

HAMILTON, Mont. (AP) - A 26-year-old man has pleaded guilty to deliberate homicide in the stomping death of a Hamilton man during an alcohol- and drug-fueled rage.

Richard M. Sullivan entered his plea Thursday before District Judge James Haynes, who scheduled sentencing for June 12. Ravalli County prosecutors agreed to recommend a 20-year prison sentence and to drop felony drug charges in a separate case.

Authorities have said Sullivan beat and stomped on 25-year-old Robert Thaut at his residence in January 2014, causing internal bleeding that led to his death because Sullivan and his wife, Candace, failed to get timely medical help.

Prosecutors said the Sullivans had been drinking at Thaut’s home on Jan. 28, 2014, when Sullivan became angry because Thaut sniffed Candace Sullivan’s hair, leading to a prolonged fight.

Richard Sullivan told Haynes he punched Thaut and threw a speaker at him that left a gash in his head, but he said he didn’t remember kicking him. He said he was under the influence of alcohol, an anti-anxiety medication and marijuana at the time.



Candace Sullivan called 911 at 11:20 p.m. that night to report a man who had been assaulted was unresponsive. Thaut had suffered blunt-force trauma to his abdomen up to two hours before the 911 call was made and could have survived with prompt medical attention, State Medical Examiner Gary Dale found.

Thaut also suffered numerous blows to the head and a broken nose.

At the time of Thaut’s death the Sullivans were free on bail following their arrest at a Stevensville motel for allegedly smoking methamphetamine while caring for a small child.

Candace Sullivan faces sentencing on April 16 for obstructing justice and drug possession. She pleaded guilty in February and prosecutors agreed to drop a charge of felony accountability for deliberate homicide.

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