The trial for accused murderer Jeffrey Nixon began on Monday, as a jury heard from prosecutors and defense attorneys, as well as witness testimony.
Nixon is accused of beating to death Kalispell resident Wesley Collins in an attempt to steal the man’s drugs and other possessions in April 2010. He was accused along with Robert Lake, who pleaded guilty to deliberate homicide last March.
Nixon faces charges of deliberate homicide, robbery, tampering with physical evidence and burglary.
Prosecutors allege that Nixon and Lake beat Collins to death with hammers and strangled him with a cord, then hid the body in the woods outside of Kalispell with the help of Cody Naldrett, who entered an Alford plea in exchange for fewer charges from prosecutors.
In her opening statement, Deputy County Attorney Alison Howard contended that Nixon’s attorneys would attempt to pin the blame entirely on Lake and others.
“He is an accessory to the homicide of Wesley Collins,” Howard said. “He is also responsible for going into Wesley’s apartment after they had killed him and helping dispose of his body and clean up the crime scene.”
Nixon’s attorney Nicholas Aemisegger told the jury that there is little physical evidence to convict his client, and the jury will have to rely on witness accountability throughout the trial.
“The only thing that matters in this case is evidence that has been produced,” Aemisegger said.
He also said Nixon’s group of friends would make wild plans that were never really going to happen, such as robbing banks, impersonating Russian mobsters and robbing Collins.
“To Jeff Nixon, it was just smack talk,” Aemisseger said, adding that his client was “shocked” when Lake attacked Collins, and was the “fall guy” in the murder plot.
The trial is scheduled to proceed for five days, beginning July 11. Lake and his girlfriend at the time of the murder, Karrolyn Robinson, are expected to testify. Robinson received an eight-year prison term after she pleaded guilty to her role in covering up the crime.
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