Richard Andrew Heckler made his initial appearance in Seventh Judicial District Court in front of Judge Katherine Bidegaray on Monday, Aug. 12, on the charge of assault on a minor, a felony, after allegedly attacking a 9-year-old boy during the fair.
According to the affidavit, a Richland County Sheriff’s deputy responded to a report at 10:20 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 3, of a man attacking children behind the 4-H food booth at the fairgrounds. The responding deputy recognized the man, later named as Heckler, from previous encounters that evening.
When the deputy arrived, Heckler was surrounded by five other adults and was “struggling to formulate complete thoughts and was having a hard time staying on his feet.” The deputy believed Heckler to be heavily intoxicated, as stated in the affidavit. He appeared to have minor scrapes on his face that were not present during earlier interactions with the deputy.
The deputy spoke with the 9-year-old, who was visibly shaken from the encounter. The boy told the deputy he was playing with friends when Heckler came up, grabbed him and threw him to the ground. A group of young boys was playing catch with a football when the defendant walked in front of the ball and the ball hit him. It was then, according to the statements of the boys, Heckler grabbed the victim by the head and threw him down.
According to Montana Code Annotate section 45-5-212, if convicted, Heckler could face a prison term of no more than 20 years, be fined up to $50,000 or both.