Found Deceased MT - Rebekah Barsotti 33, & dog (fnd deceased), Town Pump, Superior, Mineral Co, 20 Jul 2021 *Reward

Status
Not open for further replies.

NoSpoonFeeding

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Messages
301
Reaction score
996
As far as the 911 tape, you also outline a scenario that can suggest the family wants the tape for all the wrong reasons

I don't doubt your family's good intentions. A decision can't be made based on what the family plans to do with the information and how well they will guard it.
The state has the liability and responsibility to the Oregon family's need/right for privacy and to feel safe.
Montana Highway Patrol, what reason would they have to invent receiving a 911 call, dispatching a Trooper, and having him meet with a family at the river? For what purpose would they commit felonies, risk their pensions, and go to prison?
Isn't it more likely that the 911 tape is real but wasn't released due to the Oregon family's rights?
I am in the United States. In my state, I've never seen or heard of a report issued with that kind of title. If it's not known for a fact that this is a practice with that dept, I wouldn't assume that you aren't getting something that you should.
 

laurawlms

Verified family member - Rebekah Barsotti thread
Joined
Sep 3, 2021
Messages
303
Reaction score
1,799
I don't doubt your family's good intentions. A decision can't be made based on what the family plans to do with the information and how well they will guard it.
The state has the liability and responsibility to the Oregon family's need/right for privacy and to feel safe.
Montana Highway Patrol, what reason would they have to invent receiving a 911 call, dispatching a Trooper, and having him meet with a family at the river? For what purpose would they commit felonies, risk their pensions, and go to prison?
Isn't it more likely that the 911 tape is real but wasn't released due to the Oregon family's rights?
I am in the United States. In my state, I've never seen or heard of a report issued with that kind of title. If it's not known for a fact that this is a practice with that dept, I wouldn't assume that you aren't getting something that you should.

I am also in the US. I didn't misspeak "county". I have received admin reports in cases I have been involved in when the case is ongoing in my county.

The family, or anybody for that matter has a right to the 911 recording or transcript:

  • Are 9-1-1 tapes and dispatch recordings kept by law enforcement public records?
    Yes. A 9-1-1 call and its accompanying recorded dispatch record is clearly an “initial offense report” and therefore “public criminal justice information.” See, 42 Op. Att’y Gen. No. 119 (2004). There is nothing in the law granting greater protection to 9-1-1 tapes versus other public records. Like other public documents, they may be withheld only when the demand for individual privacy clearly exceeds the merit of public disclosure. For example, if the 9-1-1 call is for a health-related emergency for a private citizen, it may not be available for inspection.

  • Are initial offense reports and initial arrest records kept by law enforcement considered public records?
    • Yes. Under the law, telephone logs are considered either “initial offense reports” or “initial arrest records,” or both. These are public under §44-5-103(13)(e)(i) MCA.

      In 42 Att’y Gen. Op. 119, the attorney general defined “initial arrest records” as “the first record made by a criminal justice agency indicating the fact of a particular person’s arrest, including the initial facts associated with that arrest,” and “initial offense reports” as “the first report recorded by a criminal justice agency which indicates that a criminal offense may have been committed, including a description of the initial facts surrounding the reported offense.” The opinion said confidential information may be blacked out, but the edited report should be public.

      §44-5-311 also protects the identity of a crime victim. This section says police cannot release the address, telephone number or place of employment of a victim who requests confidentiality. The law also forbids police from releasing the names of sex crime victims except in certain situations. In 50 Att’y Gen. Op. 6, the attorney general softened this law, saying police may disclose a crime scene location, even if such disclosure may suggest the identity of the victim, even the victim of a sex crime. The opinion further said that confidentiality attempts by victims need to be subjected to a balancing act between public disclosure and privacy under the Montana Constitution.
  • Montana Freedom of Information | Public Records
 

Steve McQueen

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2021
Messages
411
Reaction score
2,684
Regarding the 911 call:

1. Privacy issues can be easily dispensed with by redaction of any personal information from the 911 call transcript. All that need be released is the time, date and location of the call and what was said (with redaction of any personal information).

2. @laurawlms' FOIA request for the 911 call was: "Denied - citing Confidential Criminal Justice Information and a pending investigation." Is this equivalent to the 911 call being part of an ongoing criminal investigation? Because it's my understanding that this is a missing person case and not a criminal investigation.

I see no reason whatsoever why a redacted transcript of the 911 call can't be released. The refusal to release the call just fuels the impression that

JMO
 

NoSpoonFeeding

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Messages
301
Reaction score
996
The key information unknown to us is, was a 911 information request submitted to Montana Highway Patrol? Are they willing to give just the basic information? If not, it may be their policy that if the request is denied, they release nothing.

A request for records/reports from Mineral County is a different situation. It could be that the 911 information is within a report, but it would be a part of an ongoing investigation and therefore denied. As to what type of investigation it is, it's "ongoing" no matter what it's called. Also, many ongoing investigations aren't really titled or divided criminal/non-criminal categories, so that isn't a factor. For example, a Death Investigation could mean lots of things.
In my opinion, if one's position is that the FOIA gives an absolute right to the requestor, then the rights and safety of the witness are not a factor and they would not accept redactions. I think the phone call time/date, Trooper's name, and that the witness said they found things near the river, is already known to the mother. It sounded like, in the council meeting, that the contact information was the issue. The Sheriff was asked why can't we have the information, he answered: "Because if you contact him, you would be harassing a witness". This is just an awful situation, but sometimes understanding how things are done and why can help.

THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF MONTANA
ARTICLE II. DECLARATION OF RIGHTS
Part II. DECLARATION OF RIGHTS

Right To Know

Section 9. Right to know. No person shall be deprived of the right to examine documents or to observe the deliberations of all public bodies or agencies of state government and its subdivisions, except in cases in which the demand of individual privacy clearly exceeds the merits of public disclosure.
 

?!?

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 20, 2021
Messages
688
Reaction score
2,975
The key information unknown to us is, was a 911 information request submitted to Montana Highway Patrol? Are they willing to give just the basic information? If not, it may be their policy that if the request is denied, they release nothing.

A request for records/reports from Mineral County is a different situation. It could be that the 911 information is within a report, but it would be a part of an ongoing investigation and therefore denied. As to what type of investigation it is, it's "ongoing" no matter what it's called. Also, many ongoing investigations aren't really titled or divided criminal/non-criminal categories, so that isn't a factor. For example, a Death Investigation could mean lots of things.
In my opinion, if one's position is that the FOIA gives an absolute right to the requestor, then the rights and safety of the witness are not a factor and they would not accept redactions. I think the phone call time/date, Trooper's name, and that the witness said they found things near the river, is already known to the mother. It sounded like, in the council meeting, that the contact information was the issue. The Sheriff was asked why can't we have the information, he answered: "Because if you contact him, you would be harassing a witness". This is just an awful situation, but sometimes understanding how things are done and why can help.

THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF MONTANA
ARTICLE II. DECLARATION OF RIGHTS
Part II. DECLARATION OF RIGHTS

Right To Know

Section 9. Right to know. No person shall be deprived of the right to examine documents or to observe the deliberations of all public bodies or agencies of state government and its subdivisions, except in cases in which the demand of individual privacy clearly exceeds the merits of public disclosure.

Since this involves citizens of both Montana and Oregon, sounds like the FBI should be involved.

IANAExpert
 

Steve McQueen

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2021
Messages
411
Reaction score
2,684
The key information unknown to us is, was a 911 information request submitted to Montana Highway Patrol? Are they willing to give just the basic information? If not, it may be their policy that if the request is denied, they release nothing.

A request for records/reports from Mineral County is a different situation. It could be that the 911 information is within a report, but it would be a part of an ongoing investigation and therefore denied. As to what type of investigation it is, it's "ongoing" no matter what it's called. Also, many ongoing investigations aren't really titled or divided criminal/non-criminal categories, so that isn't a factor. For example, a Death Investigation could mean lots of things.
In my opinion, if one's position is that the FOIA gives an absolute right to the requestor, then the rights and safety of the witness are not a factor and they would not accept redactions. I think the phone call time/date, Trooper's name, and that the witness said they found things near the river, is already known to the mother. It sounded like, in the council meeting, that the contact information was the issue. The Sheriff was asked why can't we have the information, he answered: "Because if you contact him, you would be harassing a witness". This is just an awful situation, but sometimes understanding how things are done and why can help.

THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF MONTANA
ARTICLE II. DECLARATION OF RIGHTS
Part II. DECLARATION OF RIGHTS

Right To Know

Section 9. Right to know. No person shall be deprived of the right to examine documents or to observe the deliberations of all public bodies or agencies of state government and its subdivisions, except in cases in which the demand of individual privacy clearly exceeds the merits of public disclosure.


Thank you for the well crafted, well thought out, factual and detailed reply.

I have gone back through the thread and reread the transcript of the council meeting.

First this is from a post by @laurawlms:

"I have requested a transcript of the 911 call under the Montana Public Records Act § 2-6-1001 et seq. I will let you know the Sheriff's response. The Sheriff overseas the 911 call center.

From this I assume the request was made to the Sheriff's Office. Maybe @laurawlms can confirm this.

This is from the transcript of the council meeting:

On November 16th, 2021, my sister, Laura Williams, submitted a FOIA request for 911 calls placed on July 20th, 2021. This request is pending and the reason given was…the information returned to her was… For criminal investigation, pending criminal investigation or closed criminal investigation and she was informed to submit an additional form: The application of criminal justice information. She had mailed this off and to date, November 26, 2021, there has been no response. 911 calls are public information according to Montana law .To our knowledge Rebekah’s case has never been treated as a criminal investigation. Sheriff Toth continues to label this case as a river accident. If this is a river accident the question to consider here is Rebekah’s case a river accident or is it a criminal investigation? Because the answer determines how the case proceeds.

Nowhere in this portion of AM's presentation does she ask for the identity of the 911 caller or complain that it has not been released to her.

And then this from the meeting:

AM: The driver’s license and the credit card were perfectly laid out. You couldn’t have laid them out better with a ruler. Okay? And the whole thing is that this scenario is; ‘girl rescues dog’. You are not going to take the time to take your driver’s license and your credit card out of your pocket. You’re not going to take the time.

Rebekah wore sunglasses all day long, because of a nevus on the cornea of her eye. So she wore sunglasses all day long. So law enforcement looks at the sunglasses and the hat, discarded, as: she threw them off.

MT: The witness that found it says they picked up the driver’s license.

Woman X, in audience: What witness?

MT: We’re not going to tell you.

Woman X in audience: Exactly

MT: It’s because…you can’t…if you reach out to him, now you’re harassing a witness. We know who he is. We know who the family is. We’re in contact.

It is evident from this portion of the transcript that it was not AM that was pressuring MT for the identity of the 911 caller. Instead it was another woman present in the room. MT raises the issue of harassment with this unidentified woman, not AM.

You have stated above:

"I think the phone call time/date, Trooper's name, and that the witness said they found things near the river, is already known to the mother."

Even if this true, there may be other valuable information that could be learned from a full transcript of the call. Did the caller mention the presence of other people? Did he/she ask the if they knew the owner's of the personal items? Did the caller inform the dispatcher where he/she had searched for a potential owner of the items? These are just examples that illustrate that we really don't know what was said in that 911 call.

I believe the real issue here is a lack of transparency by LE. This is fueling distrust of the authorities by the family and is fostering the impression that they are hiding something from the family and the public. I'm afraid it will probably require a lawsuit by the family to receive the records they are requesting and this is unfortunate as that is a very expensive undertaking. Yes, it's an awful situation.
 

NoSpoonFeeding

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Messages
301
Reaction score
996
As I have previously posted, Montana Highway Patrol is the agency that received the 911 call from the witness. Their legal dept determines what information is released, they process their own FOIA requests. The sheriff of any county does not have the ability to make a certified official transcript or recording from their system nor the authority to release them.
Since it appears that only Mineral County received a FOIA request, this goes back to the policy that reports in progress will not be released. And reports possibly released later with witness information redacted.
I did not name a person that asked about the witness, in the council meeting, but I did think it was possibly a family member that asked (not pressured) as the family member here said the sheriff suggested a family member would use the 911 to harass the witness.
 

Steve McQueen

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2021
Messages
411
Reaction score
2,684
As I have previously posted, Montana Highway Patrol is the agency that received the 911 call from the witness. Their legal dept determines what information is released, they process their own FOIA requests. The sheriff of any county does not have the ability to make a certified official transcript or recording from their system nor the authority to release them.
Since it appears that only Mineral County received a FOIA request, this goes back to the policy that reports in progress will not be released. And reports possibly released later with witness information redacted.
I did not name a person that asked about the witness, in the council meeting, but I did think it was possibly a family member that asked (not pressured) as the family member here said the sheriff suggested a family member would use the 911 to harass the witness.

If what you say is true, and I have no reason to doubt it, the Sheriff's Office should have referred the family to the MHP for release of the 911 call. In my opinion the Mineral County Sheriff's Office and MT in particular have been less than helpful to the family for whatever reason. It is evident by the posture and tone taken by MT in council meeting. Not acceptable in my opinion and it is just that, only my opinion.
 

Gina20

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 3, 2019
Messages
1,542
Reaction score
6,806
I did not name a person that asked about the witness, in the council meeting, but I did think it was possibly a family member that asked (not pressured) as the family member here said the sheriff suggested a family member would use the 911 to harass the witness.

I'm confused. Were you in attendance at that meeting?
 

Steve McQueen

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2021
Messages
411
Reaction score
2,684
No, look up thread.

@Gina20 deserves a better reply than that. I too am confused. It appears that you have assumed that the unidentified woman in the council meeting is a family member. That may or may not be true. Even if it is true, there is no evidence that AM or LW ever asked or pressured LE for the identity of the 911 caller.
 

NoSpoonFeeding

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Messages
301
Reaction score
996
Toth went so far as to suggest (at the Commissioner's meeting) the family would use the 911 to "harass the witness". Who is he to make such an accusation (besides Sheriff of course)?
@Gina20 deserves a better reply than that. I too am confused. It appears that you have assumed that the unidentified woman in the council meeting is a family member. That may or may not be true. Even if it is true, there is no evidence that AM or LW ever asked or pressured LE for the identity of the 911 caller.

An FOIA request IS asking for information. Nowhere do I imply the request is inappropriate and I even suggest the request be made to MHP. No one should be offended by my stating the obvious. This is not any kind of judgment for anyone exercising their rights. The word "pressured" is not in my post, nor did I state I assumed it was a family member. Due to the above quote, possibly it is, which also means possibly it's not. The context for this was the suggestion that a redacted report be given to the family and my asking if that would be accepted due to the interest in the 911 call.
 

Steve McQueen

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2021
Messages
411
Reaction score
2,684
I'd like to pivot this conversation back to possible scenarios. All based on pure speculation of course.

Let's assume that DB (and maybe an accomplice, the caretaker?) abducted RB and her dog. And that he killed the dog and dumped him in the Clark Fork River and then disposed of RB somewhere on land in the Montana wilderness. If so, then DB has committed the near perfect crime. He has LE convinced that RB accidently drowned and everyone's efforts are focused on finding her in the Clark Fork. He has the perfect alibi provided by his caretaker/accomplice. LE won't investigate him. No warrants will be issued.

So if this is the scenario you choose to believe, did DB plan this or did he come up with it on the fly?

To dissect this, it would be helpful to know who set up the meeting at the Town Pump with the caretaker. If DB and the caretaker set it up, this makes it more likely that they had a plan in mind. The fact that only a few items were transferred suggests that the meeting was not all that necessary. Of course, maybe RB requested the meeting because there were some special keepsakes that she felt she couldn't live without.

So if they set this up, how could they be assured that RB would go to the Alberton Rocks to exercise Cerberus? Maybe the plan was just to follow her and wait for an opportunity. Or did they know it was her routine to stop at the Rocks? Or was it the caretaker's job to convince her to stop at the rocks?

I bring this up because the staging of the personal items at the beach seems to be too sophisticated to be thought up in the heat of the moment. It seems to me to be part of a well thought out, premeditated plan. By planning everything ahead of time, they could have procured items necessary for the abduction such as dog treats, a dog leash, and restraints (zip ties or handcuffs). I personally think it is unconscionable that DB was not investigated. I realize he lawyered up, but warrants for the search of his home and property should have been pursued.

This is JMO. Feel free to agree or disagree.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top