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No Charges to be Filed in Evergreen Stabbing
County attorney says suspect has a credible claim of self-defense
The Flathead County Attorney's Office will not pursue charges at this time against the Kalispell man accused of stabbing another man during a Feb. 7 incident, due to a claim of self-defense.

According to County Attorney Ed Corrigan, Kyle Wesley Puckett, 28, has a "credible claim of self-defense" regarding the Friday evening incident.

"We are not going to file attempted homicide charges against Puckett at this time," Corrigan said.

Carl Scott "Scotty" Lamar, 27, the man who was stabbed, remains in critical condition after the fight. He received two superficial cuts to his abdomen, Corrigan said, and a stab wound behind his knee, which severed an artery.

Corrigan said Puckett "quite willingly volunteered that he had stabbed" Lamar that night, but also told responding deputies that he did so in self-defense. He said he and Lamar were walking near the Evergreen trailer park on South Cedar Drive where the fight occurred, with a woman they were both interested in walking in front of them.

According to Puckett's version of the events, he walked in front of Lamar a bit, and then Lamar attacked him from behind, knocking him to the ground and beating him "pretty severely," Corrigan said. Puckett told investigators that Lamar pulled a knife on him, and so he pulled one as well, stabbing Lamar.

As a general rule, Corrigan said, when law enforcement receives a claim of self-defense, investigators remain skeptical because the claim is presented so often in violent cases. But two surveillance videos from a gas station and a pawn shop near the incident seem to support Puckett's story, Corrigan said.

The video from Lanes Conoco shows the men following the woman across the highway, and the pawn shop video shows that Lamar started walking behind Puckett before attacking the other man, the prosecutor said.

"Lamar is assaulting him pretty vigorously," Corrigan said.

The fight moves behind a fence, where the cameras cannot see what occurs from the shoulders down. Then Puckett walks off, while Lamar slumps to the ground, Corrigan said.

The entire fight takes about 20 seconds. Puckett did not have a knife wound on him, the prosecutor said.

Corrigan said Puckett described the knife as a dark-colored, single blade, which responding officers found on the ground near Lamar.

Corrigan noted that the video does not show either man with a knife.

After Puckett left the scene, he said he went to the trailer where the woman was, and gave her the knife to dispose of. Law enforcement did not find the knife Puckett said he used in his attack, Corrigan said, but there is no indication that the knife found lying beside Lamar belonged to or was used by Puckett.

"(Puckett) has, at this point, what appears to be a credible and viable claim of self-defense," Corrigan said.

Instead of charging Puckett, Corrigan said the investigation into the stabbing will continue, and investigators hope to answer lingering questions, such as what happened to Puckett's knife. The county attorney's office also plans on sending the surveillance footage to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to see if they can enhance it at all.

Corrigan said he would likely release the surveillance footage to the public if the decision to not press charges stands.

In the meantime, prosecutors have filed a petition to revoke Puckett's release on his own recognizance stemming from a 2013 drug charge, because he allegedly told investigators during the attempted homicide interrogation that he has smoked marijuana since he's been released and there are allegations that he has consumed alcohol as well.

The court has already released an arrest warrant for Puckett on that matter, Corrigan said, and he remains in the Flathead County Detention Center on $25,000 bond.

Corrigan said he has heard from the public, questioning the decision to release Puckett in the first place after he pleaded guilty by way of Alford to the 2013 drug felony. But Corrigan said it's not uncommon for first-time felons to be released, especially in a non-violent crime.

The prosecutor would not comment on whether there would be any charges brought against the woman in this case for her alleged role in dealing with the knife.

Puckett is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 19 for his Alford plea to the charge of possession of precursors to dangerous drugs charge. An Alford plea means the individual does not admit to the act, but acknowledges that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict.
 
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