KALISPELL — Xavier Chenault, charged for the death of Steven Speer outside of the VFW in Whitefish last year, was sentenced on Thursday to 15 years in the Montana State Prison; ten of the years were suspended.
Chenault, 22 years old, pleaded guilty in April to a charge of felony negligent homicide in Flathead County District Court. Chenault changed his plea to guilty after originally pleading not guilty in January in the case.
Court documents say that police were called to the VFW Bar and Grill on July 30, 2020, where they found 25-year old Speer unresponsive with a severe head injury.
Individuals at the scene, including Chenault, indicated to officers that no fight had occurred and that Speer was intoxicated and had fallen to the ground.
A Whitefish Police Department investigation, which included security video footage and interviews with additional witnesses, found that Speer had been in an altercation with Chenault and that Speer had been knocked to the ground.
Speer was taken to a hospital on the night of the incident and later died from his injuries on Aug. 2.
During testimony in April, Chenault told District Judge Robert Allison that he was “taking responsibility for my actions” by changing his plea to guilty. Chenault told Judge Allison that “Speer was a friend of mine” and that they lived and worked together.
During testimony on Thursday, Chenault told Judge Allison he was remorseful for taking Speer’s life “I’m not remorseful because I’m in jail, I’m remorseful because I took someone’s life with my own hands, If I could trade places with him, I would.”