A Kalispell man accused of helping remove and hide the body of a murder victim will serve an additional six months in the county jail on top of the time he’s been there, as well as a 10-year suspended prison sentence.
Cody Naldrett, 28, was sentenced on April 28 for his role in the April 2010 murder of Wesley Collins. Investigators alleged that Naldrett helped Robert Lake and Jeffrey Nixon move Collins’ body from the crime scene to a dump site in the woods near Kalispell.
He was charged with felony evidence tampering and criminal possession of dangerous drugs. The Flathead County Attorney’s Office agreed to drop the drug charge in exchange for Naldrett’s Alford plea, which he entered in March.
An Alford plea means Naldrett does not admit guilt, but acknowledges that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict him.
Before District Court Judge Stewart Stadler handed down the sentence, Naldrett’s attorney Lane Bennett spoke on behalf of his client.
“I did want the family to know and understand that there was no indication in the investigation of this matter that Cody Naldrett had any idea that this was going to happen,” Bennett said.
“His involvement is all … after the incident,” he said.
Bennett asked the court to sentence Naldrett to a 10-year suspended prison sentence and receive credit for the 373 days he has already spent in the Flathead County jail. A year there was sufficient, Bennet said.
“Cody has been a model inmate; he has been an inmate worker,” he said. “I think Cody has certainly learned his lesson.”
Bennett also noted that Naldrett now receives Social Security disability payments, and that those disabilities might make it difficult for Naldrett to finish his GED as stipulated by the court.
When asked if he had anything to say, Naldrett answered, “No.”
Deputy County Attorney Alison Howard told Stadler that given the seriousness of the situation, the state recommended an additional six months in jail on top of the time already served.
Stadler told Naldrett that the court is convinced that his involvement was solely in the aftermath of the murder and not before. However, Stadler said he was concerned with the fact that after helping move the body, Naldrett did not go to police and also kept some of Collins’ possessions, according to the investigation.
The judge agreed to the prosecution’s recommended sentencing of an additional half-year in the county jail, and told Naldrett that if he cannot stay out of trouble during his 10-year suspended sentence, he will likely end up in prison.
In February, Lake pleaded guilty to beating Collins to death with a hammer in order to steal his marijuana and other personal possessions. He was sentenced to 110 years in Montana State Prison in early April.
Lake’s girlfriend, Karrolyn Robinson, received an eight-year prison sentence last December for her role covering up the murder, in which she admitted to deleting text messages from her phone and Lake’s phone despite knowing they were of evidentiary value.
Nixon remains in custody at the Flathead County jail, awaiting trial.
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