The Manhattan man accused of fishing without a license at a Three Forks pond in August appeared in court in Bozeman Friday morning. He faced charges of obstructing an officer and resisting arrest at a justice court trial.
Ernie Wayne terTelgte, 52, was kicked out of court less than 30 minutes after proceedings began. Three Forks City Judge Wanda Drusch, holding court in Bozeman for the occasion, warned terTelgte that he was not to interrupt prosecuting attorney Patrick C. Riley as he was speaking to the jury. TerTelgte responded by calling Riley’s credentials into question.
“In honor of the Constitution of the United States, I cannot allow a man who carries British recognition for the purposes of British ministerial law to continue to persecute me,” terTelgte said.
After repeated warnings, Drusch held terTelgte in contempt of court and had sheriff’s deputies escort him to a separate room in the Law and Justice Center. There were 32 law enforcement officers from 10 agencies on hand.
Once terTelgte was transported to a separate room, Riley continued to talk to the six-member jury panel about its duty to remain impartial during court proceedings.
Since terTelgte was representing himself and was held in contempt of court, he was not allowed to question potential jurors to narrow down the pool to six.
After the jurors were sworn in, Riley called his first witness, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Warden Adam Pankratz.
Pankratz said that he was routinely checking fishing licenses at the Three Forks ponds on August 31. When he made his way to terTelgte, he noticed that he was fishing with his son.
“I observed him reeling in what I observed to be a fish,” Pankratz said. “I congratulated him.”
The warden then asked terTelgte if he had a fishing license. terTelgte responded that he didn’t have a license and he didn’t need one. Pankratz said he told terTelgte that it was ok if he didn’t have a license, but he would need to see his identification.
“He told me his name was copyrighted and I had no right to know his name,” Pankratz said in court.
terTelgte’s son also refused to speak with Pankratz or identify his father. Pankratz called Gallatin County dispatch to request backup. He said he hoped a local officer might know terTelgte and be able to reason with him.
During the incident, terTelgte repeatedly told Pankratz to leave him alone.
“He threatened that if I didn’t walk away, bad things would happen,” Pankratz said.
After Pankratz’ testimony, the court took a short recess so Riley could set up audio evidence taken from a recording device on Three Forks police officer Colter Metcalf’s uniform.
When the court reconvened, Metcalf is heard on the recording as he responds to the incident with terTelgte at the ponds. Metcalf arrives and tries to glean terTelgte’s identity, without success.
Finally, Metcalf informs terTelgte that he is going to arrest him.
The audio from Metcalf’s recording device captured both the warden and police officer telling terTelgte to stop resisting arrest.
“I don’t want to spray you, but I will,” Metcalf said at one point.
After the warden knocks one of terTelgte’s legs out from under him, the men make their arrest. As they are taking terTelgte to Metcalf’s police car, terTelgte sits on the ground, forcing Metcalf and Pankratz to carry him the rest of the way.
When Metcalf finished his testimony, terTelgte was not given the opportunity to introduce witnesses in court or cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses.
After 15 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned their verdict. TerTelgte was found guilty of both counts of obstructing a peace officer and resisting arrest. All jail time was deferred. He will have to pay the fines associated with the misdemeanor charges.
TerTelgte appeared before Drusch earlier this month for his omnibus hearing for the misdemeanor charges in Three Forks. He brought a posse of supporters that flooded the city hall. In Judge Drusch’s courtroom, terTelgte would not recite his name, address or any other personal information.
In his hearing that lasted only a few minutes, terTelgte’s presented a colorful speech that included a bit where he called the American flag the “Jolly Roger.” He also reiterated that he had “the right to forage for food” because he is the “living man.”
Drusch asked terTelgte if he would like his case to go to trail, because he pleaded not guilty to both charges.
“I never plead,” Tertelgte responded “Animals plead. Sounds like baaaaa, oink, oink.”
Drusch finally got fed up with terTelgte’s speech and walked out of the courtroom.
On Nov. 18, terTelgte was once again charged with resisting arrest after a deputy sheriff recognized him in the Law and Justice Center.
According to court documents, Deputy Sheriff Marcia Monforton spotted terTelgte and contacted another deputy because she was aware that terTelgte had a warrant out for his arrest.
Four uniformed deputies showed up to the Law and Justice Center. Deputy Matthew Boxmeyer recognized terTelgte and made contact with him. Boxmeyer told terTelgte about the active warrant out for his arrest.
TerTelgte responded by telling Boxmeyer that he had no authority to arrest him. Boxmeyer attempted to get terTelgte to put his hands behind his back. TerTelgte refused to let go of a metal railing at the top of a stairwell.
“The defendant continued to actively resist being placed in handcuffs and shout that we had no authority to arrest him,” Boxmeyer wrote in his report. “It took three deputies to assist him to the ground and place him in handcuffs.”
TerTelgte has not indicated whether he will go to trial for the newest resisting arrest charge.