- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 18, 2016

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) - A Kalispell man ran and pleaded for his life before being stabbed two dozen times in the woods east of Creston, a witness testified at the trial of the man accused in what authorities said was a meth-related killing.

Robert Wittal, 29, is charged with deliberate homicide in the death of Wade Rautio in late May, the Flathead Beacon (https://bit.ly/2dYqbo1) reported.

David Toman, 21, testified Monday that he was high on methamphetamine when he drove into the woods with Wittall, Rautio and Christopher Hansen on the day the 35-year-old Rautio was killed.

Toman said he heard Wittal tell Rautio to get on his knees and not to fight. He said Rautio screamed back, “‘I’m innocent. Please don’t kill me.’”

Rautio ran and was stabbed when he fell, said Toman, who went to the sheriff’s office in mid-June and led deputies to Rautio’s body in a creek.

Court records say Rautio was suspected of stealing drugs from acquaintance Melisa Crone and that she told Wittal to harm him.

During cross examination, defense attorney Steven Scott noted that Toman had given different versions of events on the day Rautio died, including whether he knew the location of the body.

Hansen, 28, testified he is in a common-law marriage with Crone. He said Rautio took meth from her and she had kicked him out of her house.

He said at first they planned to take Rautio home, but then it escalated to taking him into the woods and assaulting him, Hansen said.

Hansen testified that he handed Wittal another knife after his first one fell into the creek.

Toman, Hansen and Crone, 29, have pleaded not guilty to accountability to deliberate homicide.


Information from: Flathead Beacon, https://www.flatheadbeacon.com

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