In Montana there is exactly one substantive difference between nolo contendere and guilty, which is that a plea of nolo contendere can't be used against you in a civil action. Does this mean I think Mahe is guilty, or would be found guilty, no. Without knowing the facts and actually going to trial its impossible to say. I'm assuming this was set for jury trial, anyone who has ever tried a case in front of a jury knows they are unpredictable. But this also doesn't mean he was completely innocent or the State didn't have a case.
What it means is that both sides decided to mitigate the risk and come to a deal. Which is essentially what you've said in follow up posts. Where you lose the rest of us is in trying to claim that this result somehow equals vindication. By the way, I'm a criminal defense attorney you won't get a more sympathetic audience, but nolo contendere does not equal innocent which is what you would need for vindication.