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Prosecutor: Unicorn defense was a mixup

BILLINGS, Mont. --It turns out there are no such things as unicorns -- and even if there were, they wouldn't drive trucks.

On Tuesday, a Billings prosecutor had told a district judge that Phillip C. Holliday Jr., 42, claimed a unicorn was driving when his truck crashed into a light pole earlier this month.

But on Wednesday, the chief prosecutor said it was all a misunderstanding. Apparently, Holliday told police an unnamed woman was driving when his truck hit the pole -- not a unicorn.

"Mr. Holliday has other serious problems, but this is not one of them," County Attorney Dennis Paxinos said of the unicorn alibi.

The mixup occurred when a deputy prosecutor misunderstood an e-mail from a colleague who used the phrase "unicorn defense," thinking it was an actual statement from Holliday, Paxinos said. "Unicorn defense" is a slang term used by prosecutors when a defendant blames some mythical person for a crime, he said.

"It's kind of a code (between prosecutors) and the code was misinterpreted," Paxinos said.

Paxinos apologized "to the public, the court and to Mr. Holliday" for the confusion and said he has chastised the prosecutors involved.

Holliday has pleaded not guilty to felony charges of criminal endangerment and drunken driving. He is being represented by a public defender. Kristina Copenhaver-Landon, director of the public defender's office in Billings, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.