MISSOULA — The ex-boyfriend of missing person Jermain Charlo, Michel DeFrance, appeared in U.S. District Court Monday afternoon for violation of an assault charge between him and Jermain in 2013.
DeFrance pleaded not guilty to an offense as a prohibited person in possession of firearms and ammunition.
An Indictment filed July 28 states DeFrance was convicted of a misdemeanor crime of violence in 2013. The indictment indicates in June and October of 2018, DeFrance violated the terms of that conviction by knowingly possessing firearms and ammunition.
In May of 2013, DeFrance pleaded guilty to a Partner or Family Member Assault. In court documents from that incident, DeFrance wrote, "I caused bodily injury to my girlfriend.” At the time his girlfriend was Jermain Charlo. He also wrote, “loss of firearms rights,” as a consequence of a guilty plea.
Jermain Charlo went missing three years ago in the summer of 2018. She was reportedly dropped off in Missoula on June 16, but that report has not been corroborated.
Judge Kathleen DeSoto released DeFrance on conditions he appears at an August 11 pre-trial conference, not commit any offense, and agree to a DNA sample.
At this point, DeFrance’s court-appointed attorney raised a question surrounding the DNA obligations due to a "state-side parallel investigation" of a missing person. He said he wanted to be notified of any DNA testing and made aware of cooperation between Montana and the U.S.
Relatives of Charlo were in attendance.
“I knew he was in trouble for having a partner family member assault against Jermain multiple times, and then he's posting on Facebook pictures of himself holding firearms. So I was really hoping that, you know, that would be addressed and I'm happy that it was finally addressed and that he is held responsible for his actions,” Valenda Morigeau, Charlo's Aunt, told MTN News.
Morigeau said she is hoping for more progress on Charlo's case. "I just hope that this is a stepping stone in the right direction to like where we can actually find Jermain and bring peace to our family."
At this point, authorities have not brought forward anything connecting DeFrance to Charlo’s disappearance.