Toward the end of Wednesday’s hearing, Robert Lake once again said that he didn’t understand the charges filed against him. Flathead County District Judge Stewart Stadler called the claim “incredible” and sentenced him to 110 years in prison for the brutal murder of Wesley Collins.
Lake had previously pleaded guilty to his role in the 2010 beating death of Collins, 49, of Kalispell. And in exchange prosecutors dropped a felony robbery charge. But as sentencing neared, Lake began to backtrack.
At a March 16 hearing, he claimed when signing the agreement he thought the maximum sentence was 110 months, not years. On March 24, he claimed ineffective counsel. And at Wednesday’s sentencing, he told the judge, “I don’t know what’s going on here” and asked to be sent to the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs instead of prison.
Stadler was unmoved and said this was an “attempt by (Lake) to minimize punishment for a brutal killing.”
The judge had already denied the defendant’s request to withdraw his guilty plea. In a court order, Stadler pointed out that Lake testified that he understood the plea agreement, its accompanying penalties and was not coerced to sign it.
Lake, 22, and 20-year-old Jeffrey Nixon were arrested last April and charged with entering Collins’ home, beating him to death with hammers, then stealing his marijuana, prescription medications and other possessions. They are also accused of moving Collins’ body to a wooded area west of Kalispell with the help of Cody Naldrett.
Naldrett, 28, entered an Alford plea on charges of evidence tampering. Prosecutors agreed to a nine-year prison sentence with all but six months suspended, and Naldrett would not get credit for time served in jail already. His sentencing is scheduled for April 28. Nixon is scheduled to face a trial later this year.
During emotional testimony at Wednesday’s sentencing, Jean Collins, the victim’s mother, called Lake a “cold-blooded calculating killer.”
Three of Wesley Collins’ sisters also took the stand.
“You used my brother, gained his trust and killed him,” Virginia Darsow said.
“Lake’s brutal actions have crippled our family for life,” Kathy Collins said.
Lake was also sentenced to 10 years in prison for evidence tampering that will run concurrently to his 110-year sentence for homicide.
Late last year, Lake’s girlfriend, 19-year-old Karrolyn Robinson, was sentenced to eight years in the Montana Women’s Prison in Billings for her role in covering up the murder. Robinson admitted that she told Lake’s brother to delete text messages from Lake’s phone even though she knew they were of evidentiary value to investigators.
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