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Authorities seek Kila man for 2019 DUI homicide

by SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER
Daily Inter Lake | January 14, 2021 12:00 AM

Authorities are looking for a Northwest Montana man who is accused of two counts of vehicular homicide while under the influence.

Charges were filed Tuesday in Flathead County District Court against Tim Allen Peters, 56, of Kila. Flathead County Deputy Attorney Stacy Boman issued a warrant for Peters’ arrest.

According to court documents, Jeffrey Lewis, 39, of Kila, and Leona Vaile, 31, of Browning, died in a two-vehicle crash Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, on U.S. 2 near Marion.

A Montana Highway Patrol trooper responded to the crash scene and learned Lewis and Vaile had died in a crash while they were traveling east on U.S. 2.

After investigating, the trooper believed Peters was driving a Chevy pickup west on U.S. 2 when he allegedly crossed the centerline and into the eastbound lane. Lewis crossed into the westbound lane in an apparent attempt to avoid a collision, but the trooper reported Peters swerved into the westbound lane where both trucks collided.

Another trooper met with Peters at the hospital after the crash. Peters allegedly refused to provide a blood sample, but it was obtained after a search warrant was approved for the draw.

Testing at the Montana State Crime Lab in Missoula indicated Peters’ blood alcohol level was 0.182, more than twice the legal limit. The trooper also reported finding beer cans and a cup with “amber colored liquid” inside his truck.

Family members of Lewis and Vaile filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Peters and it was settled out of court in July 2020.

Peters has faced criminal charges in the Flathead before related to driving while under the influence.

While complete details aren’t available in published court documents, Peters was charged with driving under the influence, criminal endangerment and possession of dangerous drugs in December 2000 following an incident on July 15, 2000.

The charges later were amended to felony criminal endangerment and misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Peters pleaded guilty to both offenses in December 2000. He received a four-year suspended sentence in February 2001.

Peters was ordered to not possess, use or drink intoxicants or alcohol. He was also ordered to enroll in in-patient treatment.

Judge Katherine R. Curtis wrote in the judgment she had concerns Peters had significant problems with alcohol. She also wrote, “He does not control his impulses to drink and it is likely continued drinking will result in further and more serious consequences.

“This sentence will provide the defendant the necessary supervision to help him maintain sobriety and assure his compliance with any and all treatment recommendations and remain in society as a productive and law abiding citizen.”

But in October 2001, state attorneys filed to revoke the suspended sentence after it was determined Peters consumed alcohol and drove vehicles when he was not permitted to do so. He was re-sentenced to four years suspended.

In the current case, Peters faces a maximum of 60 years in the Montana State Prison.

Scott Shindledecker may be reached at 758-4441 or sshindledecker@dailyinterlake.com