Man gets 20 years for killing his neighbor

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Mark Bolton Ames, pictured in court on Feb. 6, 2014, was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison for killing his neighbor. (Brenda Ahearn file photo/Daily Inter Lake)

After repeated attempts to withdraw his plea, a Marion man was sentenced Monday for killing his 60-year-old neighbor.

During a hearing in Flathead District Court, Mark Bolton Ames, 54, was sentenced to 20 years in Montana State Prison.

He has been convicted of mitigated deliberate homicide for shooting and killing Harold Gordon.

Ames was found guilty by way of an Alford plea that he entered in September. The plea means that he doesnít admit guilt but acknowledges that he would likely be found guilty in trial.

Since then, he has petitioned to withdraw his plea and dismiss his public defender. He claimed he didnít have enough information before entering the plea and that his attorneys misled him.

Last month, District Judge Heidi J. Ulbricht denied Amesí request to withdraw his plea. She wrote in her order that Ames showed in court that he was aware of his consequences.

Ames filed a second motion to withdraw his plea on Monday.†

The court considered the motion, but Ulbricht denied his request to push back the sentencing. The hearing had already been postponed while the initial motions were considered.

Prosecuting attorney Andrew Clegg still will file a brief in response to the second motion to withdraw a plea. Ulbricht will also be required to rule on the request, though itís unlikely that it will affect the sentencing.

Ames received credit for 485 days served in jail. The official sentence was 40 years with 20 suspended. The maximum penalty for mitigated deliberate homicide is 40 years.

On Jan. 12, 2014, an ongoing dispute between Ames and Gordon turned violent. Police say Ames fired the first rounds from an AK-47 into Gordonís apartment.†

Gordon responded by coming outside with a shotgun, at which point Ames shot and killed his neighbor with a handgun.

Reporter Matt Hudson may be reached at 758-4459 or by email at mhudson@dailyinterlake.com.

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