- Associated Press - Thursday, October 20, 2016

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) - The Latest on a Flathead County homicide trial (all times local):

7:15 p.m.

Robert Wittal dropped his head and began to cry after a jury convicted him of deliberate homicide in a drug-related stabbing death in Flathead County.

The 29-year-old Wittal was accused of killing Wade Rautio on May 26. Rautio’s body was found in a creek east of Creston.

Prosecutors argued Wittal was carrying out the role of enforcer for a drug dealer who believed the 35-year-old Rautio had stolen from her.

Wittal faces 10 to 100 years in prison. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 17.

Deputy County Attorney Andrew Clegg said three co-defendants still face trial in the case, adding: “We’re not done yet.”

___

3:35 p.m.

A jury has found a 29-year-old Kalispell man guilty of the drug-related stabbing death of another man whose body was left in a creek east of Creston.

Jurors heard closing arguments late Thursday morning and convicted Robert Wittal of deliberate homicide on Thursday afternoon. He faces 10 to 100 years in prison.

Prosecutors argued Wittal killed 35-year-old Wade Rautio on May 26 in his role as an enforcer for a drug dealer who believed Rautio stole from her.

Defense attorney Steve Scott said there was no physical evidence linking his client to the crime and that Wittal’s three co-defendants were responsible for the murder.

Investigators recovered Rautio’s body on June 13 after co-defendant David Toman led Flathead County authorities to the crime scene near Creston and told officers he had witnessed the killing.

___

2:15 p.m.

The case of a Kalispell man charged with fatally stabbing another man in May is in the hands of the jury.

Closing arguments were held Thursday morning in the deliberate homicide trial of 29-year-old Robert Wittal.

Prosecutors argued Wittal killed 35-year-old Wade Rautio in his role as an enforcer for a drug dealer who believed Rautio stole from her.

Defense attorney Steve Scott said there was no physical evidence linking his client to the crime and that Wittal’s three co-defendants are responsible for the murder.

Wittal testified that the others framed him for the murder.

___

9:30 a.m.

Jurors are expected to hear closing arguments Thursday in the case of a Kalispell man charged with deliberate homicide in the drug-related stabbing death of another man whose body was left in a creek east of Creston.

Flathead County prosecutors presented testimony that 29-year-old Robert Wittal had sent a text message in which he threatened to slice the throat of 35-year-old Wade Rautio in late May, a day before Rautio was killed.

The Flathead Beacon reports Wittal testified Wednesday that he was framed by his co-defendants, including Melisa Crone, who wanted contact information for a drug distributor that Wittal wouldn’t give her.

Prosecutors allege Crone wanted Rautio harmed for stealing from her. Wittal testified he warned Rautio to leave town.

Crone and two others have pleaded not guilty to accountability to deliberate homicide in Rautio’s death.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide