County Coroner pleads not guilty to felony charge

The Big Horn County Coroner denied charges stemming from a January incident at the house from which he was evicted

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Four Points Press on March 17, 2022.

The Big Horn County Coroner denied charges stemming from a January incident at the house from which he was evicted, which is owned by the Cemetery District.

Daryl Craig Nordquist on Tuesday, March 15 pleaded not guilty to a felony attempted aggravated burglary charge in the Big Horn County District Court in Hardin.

Charging documents show on Jan. 22 at about 7 p.m. a woman requested assistance from the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office because there was a man “a male trying to kick in the door” at the residence on the Van Zandt Road and Cemetery Road intersection west of Hardin.

According to court documents, Nordquist was previously allowed to live at the residence owned by the Cemetery district when he was employed by the district as the Hardin Fairview Cemetery groundskeeper, a position he held in addition to his duties as county coroner.

Two deputies responded to the scene within minutes and found a couple at the residence owned by the Hardin Cemetery District. According to the woman, Nordquist was reportedly making threats against the couple, at one point saying “Open the f—-g door you son of a b—h I am going to kick your a-s.”

During their investigation two deputies saw Nordquist’s pickup truck parked in the westbound lane on Van Zandt Road.

According to charging documents, at approximately 7:17 p.m., Nordquist called county dispatch and sounded “out of breath … like he was running.” He told the dispatcher he loaned his truck to his son and the truck had broken down at the “cemetery house.” The dispatcher asked Nordquist for his location and he ended the call.

Dispatch called Nordquist back on a recorded phone line and told him the vehicle needed to be towed because it was blocking the road. Nordquist reportedly responded by using expletives and threatening language.

Meanwhile, according to the charging documents, deputies saw an open can of the alcoholic beverage Twisted Tea in the cup holder of Nordquist’s truck and keys in the ignition. Deputies also saw fresh damage to the front driver’s side of the truck and leaking fluids from the vehicle, which created a trail, along with vehicle tire tracks, that led to a canal access road just west of the residence where Nordquist was reportedly threatening the residents.

Deputies also reportedly found an empty Twisted Tea can on the ground at the entrance to the canal access road near a bent reflective sign.

According to charging documents, the woman who called the sheriff’s office, answered a phone call later in the evening from Nordquist’s son. He asked to speak with her husband. When the husband took the phone to speak, Nordquist began speaking and told the couple, “You guys don’t know what you have coming.”

Nordquist did not retrieve the pickup truck and it was towed.

Nordquist faces a maximum sentence of no more than 40 years in the Montana State Prison and a fine of no more than $50,000 for the felony attempted aggravated burglary charge.

He is still facing a November 2021 misdemeanor criminal trespass charge stemming from his failure to vacate a residence owned by the Hardin cemetery board in October 2021. Nordquist was authorized to live in the residence until he was terminated from his position as cemetery groundskeeper, a position he held in addition to his duties as coroner.

Nordquist was also charged in November 2021 with misdemeanor criminal contempt for failing to follow the guidelines of his conditional release stemming from an April 2021 arrest for felony theft in Yellowstone County.

According to court documents in that case, Nordquist allegedly purchased two dirt bikes and an all-terrain vehicle despite allegedly knowing the items were stolen then reportedly attempted to sell them back to the original owner.

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