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Homicide among five charges in connection with Mika Westwolf's death

Sunny Katherinne White has been officially charged with vehicular homicide in connection to the death of Mika Josephine Westwolf.
Gavel
Posted at 10:14 AM, Oct 24, 2023

POLSON — Sunny Katherinne White has been officially charged by the Lake County Attorney's Office with vehicular homicide in connection to the death of Mika Josephine Westwolf.

Westwolf — a 22-year-old Indigenous woman — was hit and killed while walking along Highway 93 near White Coyote Road just outside of Arlee in March of this year.

Seven months later, White has been charged with five felonies: vehicular homicide while under the influence, accidents involving another person or deceased person, two counts of criminal child endangerment, and a count of criminal possession of dangerous drugs.

White was arrested on October 20, 2023, on an extra-jurisdiction warrant and spent the weekend in Flathead County Jail. On Sunday, she was bonded out. MTN News has confirmed an affidavit was filed on Monday which details what investigators understand happened the night of the Westwolf fatal hit-and-run.

Sunny Katherinne White
Sunny Katherinne White was officially charged with vehicular homicide in connection to the death of Mika Josephine Westwolf on October 23, 2023.

According to the affidavit, on March 31, 2023, at around 4:15 a.m., Tribal Police Officer T.J. Haynes was on patrol driving north of Arlee on Highway 93 when he saw vehicle debris and a body. Mika Westwolf was later identified as the victim.

Just over an hour later, at 5:23 a.m., a Lake County Sheriff's Office deputy noticed a gold 2008 Cadillac Escalade with front end damage and a missing passenger side rear-view mirror parked just outside of Polson. The damage to the vehicle matched the description of the vehicle debris described at the scene.

The deputy observed a woman — soon after identified as Sunny White — moving items from the banged-up Escalade and into another car. According to the affidavit, White said that her vehicle was overheating and she had called a friend to help her.

Additionally, the affidavit details that White stated she had hit a deer, did not stop, and kept driving - “[White] claimed she was passing a bottle back to her baby and didn’t see the deer," court documents state.

The affidavit reports that White had her two children, 4-year-old Aryan and 2-year-old Nation, in her car. White told Montana Highway Patrol (MHP) Trooper Tyler Dager that she was “driving with her two small children to Kalispell from Butte for the weekend”.

She also denied using alcohol and that she “hadn’t used methamphetamine or fentanyl in a week," court documents state.

In the statement made to Trooper Dager, White explained that she assumed what she hit was a deer and swerved to the left on the highway. The vehicle was then seized and towed away.

MHP Trooper Wayne Bieber documented the crash scene. The affidavit explains that “evidence from the scene indicates that Westwolf was walking in the northbound lane of travel or near the fog line when she was struck by the suspect vehicle”.

Westwolf was hit head-on and the force of the crash propelled her body closer to the north side of the road, the affadavit states. Westwolf died from multiple blunt force injuries.

After interviewing Westwolf's brother, Davian Howard, troopers learned that the siblings had driven to a bar in the Ravalli area that evening. According to the affidavit, on the way back into Arlee the two stopped near North Valley Creek, approximately five miles north of the crash scene, where Wetwolf left her phone in the vehicle and walked away. Howard was unable to find Westwolf and left her a voicemail at 1:13 a.m.

The affidavit states that according to cellphone data, White had left Butte close to midnight, drove through Missoula at 2:45 a.m., and was at the scene of the crash at 3 a.m.

After obtaining a search warrant for White’s vehicle, methamphetamine, five syringes, and two unopened packages of Narcan were found. White’s blood sample also returned positive for methamphetamine and fentanyl.

White is ordered to appear in the Lake County Courthouse on the first Wednesday following her arrest.

Throughout the period of investigation, Mika Westwolf’s family pushed for justice by creating the Mika Matters Movement. Through walks, rallies, speeches, and gatherings, not only did they fight for Westwolf but shed light on many other Missing and Murdered Indigenous People.

This is a developing story and we will provide updates as additional information becomes available.