Alleged murder couple arraigned in Dillon

Alleged murderer Christopher Lee Stiles, 29, appeared pleasant and composed Tuesday morning during his arraignment in front of Justice Court Judge Candy Hoerning. The appearance of his girl friend shortly after was a different story (see below). J.P. Plutt photo


Alleged murder suspects Christopher Lee Stiles, 29, and Sandra Lee Ann Cantrell, 49, both of Butte, were arraigned at the Beaverhead County Law Enforcement Annex in front of Justice Court Judge Candy L. Hoerning on Tuesday morning. The suspects were formally charged for their alleged roles in the death of Mark Robert Mullen, 60, of Butte.

The suspects appeared separately, with Stiles taking a seat in front of the judge first. Judge Hoerning explained the meaning of the three felony charges faced by Stiles — deliberate homicide, theft of property and destruction of evidence. The judge explained the possible sentence of each charge and the opportunity to seek court appointed counsel.

With each question, Stiles answered with a respectful response, addressing the judge as “Your Honor.” 

Judge Hoerning explained the bond amount of $540,000 for the three charges. Stiles indicated he would not be posting bond. The judge set a preliminary hearing in District Court in front of Fifth Judicial Judge Loren Tucker for Sept. 11, at 10 a.m.

Judge Hoerning remanded Stiles to the custody of the Beaverhead County Sheriff’s Department. Shortly after Stiles was transferred back to jail, Cantrell was led into court.

Judge Hoerning followed the same list of explanations, reading the felony charges of accountability of deliberate homicide, theft of property and destruction of evidence. Cantrell acknowledged understanding of the charges.

“I do have mental disabilities, but I know why I’m here,” volunteered Cantrell.

“I went nuts and took care of myself,” added the accused later.

During the process, Cantrell tried to outline self-defense for her actions, as she offered short, unsolicited comments regarding the incident.

When Judge Hoerning set the date for the preliminary hearing, Cantrell at first reacted as if the choice wouldn’t work for her. She had earlier indicated that she would not be posting bond and would remain in detention at the Beaverhead County Law Enforcement Annex. After thinking it over, Cantrell offered her confirmation to the judge’s order.

“9-11 was the day I quit drinking in 2012, so that’s a good day for me,’ she said. “Let’s go for it.”

During the hearing, Cantrell blurted out the question, “Are you Candy? I’ve got a sister named Candy. Candy Kane of all things.”

Before leaving the courtroom, Cantrell extended an invitation to the judge.

“Come see me on Saturday,” she said. “It’s my 50th birthday.”

Both Stiles and Cantrell accepted the invitation to apply for court-appointed legal counsel.