KALISPELL - The trial of a Flathead County official who is accused of killing trees at a public park near his Whitefish Lake home has been delayed and assigned to a new judge.
Flathead County Commissioner Phil Mitchell has pleaded not guilty to felony criminal mischief. He was charged in July after court records say a county parks employee discovered six dead cottonwood trees next to Mitchell’s home.
According to an affidavit filed by Flathead County Attorney Ed Corrigan, Mitchell admitted to pouring Roundup on one of them because they were a "substantial nuisance."
Mitchell issued a written apology to county staff for destroying the trees and offered to pay restitution or plant new ones.
The previous judge, District Court Judge Jim Manley, excused himself from the case. District Court Judge Robert Olson will now preside over Mitchell's February trial.
Mitchell was elected to the Flathead County Board of Commissioners in 2014. He previously served on the Whitefish City Council.