Billings Woman Pleads Guilty for Shooting Police Officer

A 58-year-old Billings woman, Mary Ann Whitecrane, who was previously charged with attempted murder for shooting a police officer during a standoff earlier this year, has entered a guilty plea. Whitecrane appeared in Yellowstone County District Court on Friday, having reached a plea agreement with prosecutors.

As per the agreement, Whitecrane pleaded guilty to the original charge of attempted deliberate homicide. In exchange, prosecutors are recommending a 40-year prison sentence, with an additional 10 years for the use of a firearm. Notably, there’s a provision that suggests Whitecrane could serve this sentence at a state mental health facility if recommended following a mental health evaluation and subsequent court hearing.

In a significant development, prosecutors have also agreed to dismiss four felony counts of assault with a weapon, as well as felony counts of criminal mischief and criminal endangerment at the time of sentencing.

The incident leading to Whitecrane’s arrest occurred in March, involving a 14-hour standoff initiated by officers responding to a weapons complaint at a residence on Birch Lane. Attempts to establish contact with Whitecrane proved unsuccessful, leading to the activation of the department’s SWAT team. Whitecrane, armed with a shotgun, had reportedly informed neighbors that she slept with the gun on her bed.

During the standoff, Detective Michael Yarina and other SWAT officers attempted to deliver a “throw phone” into the residence to make contact with Whitecrane. Unfortunately, Yarina, a 13-year veteran of the department, was shot just below the body armor and in his lower abdomen when the ballistic shield was penetrated. The sentencing hearing is yet to be scheduled.

By: Big Sky Headlines staff