A Kalispell man accused of beating another man to death last April pleaded not guilty on Thursday to an additional burglary charge related to the incident.
Jeffrey Nixon, 20, who is already accused of homicide, robbery and evidence tampering, appeared before District Court Stewart Stadler on March 10 for his arraignment on the new charge.
Nixon is accused of beating 49-year-old Kalispell resident Wesley Collins to death with a hammer on April 12, 2010 as part of an attempt to steal his marijuana, prescription medications and personal belongings.
Robert Lake, 22, was also arrested for his role the beating death, and pleaded guilty in February to hitting Collins with a hammer and strangling him with a cord.
Lake said Nixon also beat Collins with a hammer.
According to court documents, Nixon alleged that Lake was solely responsible for Collins’ death.
During the March 10 arraignment, Nixon’s attorney Noel Larrivee told Stadler his client was unprepared to respond to the recently added burglary charge, especially with a trial date planned for March 21.
Stadler told prosecutors that they could either drop the additional charge or expect to have the trial delayed.
County Attorney Ed Corrigan said the state would proceed with the burglary charge, which stems from Nixon’s alleged unlawful presence in Collins’ apartment following the murder.
Stadler said the jury trial would be delayed, possibly until the next available jury term in July.
Prosecutors also amended the charges against Nixon to include the felony charge of accountability for deliberate homicide, which means that he is accused of aiding, abetting, agreeing to or attempting to help Lake kill Collins. Both accountability for deliberate homicide and deliberate homicide carry the same penalties.
Lake is scheduled for sentencing on March 24. He faces over 100 years in the Montana State Prison, though prosecutors dropped the robbery charge against him as part of a plea deal.
Karrolyn Robinson, Lake’s 19-year-old girlfriend, was sentenced last December to eight years in the Montana State Women’s Prison for her role in the crime. She admitted to asking Lake’s brother to delete of several text messages from Lake’s phone, which were of evidentiary value.
She also admitted to theft following the murder.
Another man, Cody Naldrett, who was 27 at the time, is accused of helping Nixon and Lake move Collins body and dispose of it in a wooded area west of Kalispell. His trial date is still scheduled for March 21.
Nixon remains in custody at the Flathead County jail.
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