AnnMari Helt Newton, the Whitefish woman accused of stabbing her husband in the chest, pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder.
Newton, 39, appeared in Flathead County District Court for her second arraignment hearing in this case; the first came in December when she pleaded not guilty to an assault with a weapon charge, which prosecutors increased to mitigated deliberate homicide when her husband, Chad
Newton, 37, died as a result of his injuries. There is also an alternate charge of negligent homicide.
Chad Newton went to the intensive care unit on Nov. 25 after his wife allegedly stabbed him in the left side of his chest during an argument. His family, who was granted the right to make end-of-life decisions for him, removed him from life support at the end of December.
Prior to his death, AnnMari Newton’s bond had been decreased to $25,000, which was posted. She was subsequently freed on certain conditions, including wearing a GPS tracker.
At the Jan. 23 hearing, deputy county attorney Travis Ahner argued that Judge Ted O. Lympus should increase AnnMari Newton’s bond to $100,000, given the increased severity of the murder charge. Ahner also said Newton is a flight risk.
However, Newton’s attorney, Sean Hinchey, said the assumption that his client is a flight is “totally disingenuous,” because she has already turned in her Swedish passport as a condition of release and is constantly monitored by her GPS tracker.
Hinchey also said that while Newton may now be charged with mitigated deliberate homicide, it was clear when her bond was originally reduced that her husband wasn’t going to live. Regardless, Newton showed up to court when she has received a summons, he said.
“The name of the charge has changed, but that’s all that’s changed,” Hinchey said.
Lympus said he would take the matter under advisement, but told Newton that if she happens to disappear in the meantime, “the consequences will be severe.”
She was released under the same terms she’s been under since posting the $25,000 bond.
According to court documents, police officers responded to the Newton residence on O’Brien Avenue in Whitefish on Nov. 25 after receiving a report that a man had been stabbed.
Officers found Chad Newton in the kitchen, lying on the floor, unresponsive and bleeding.
A detective spoke with a man who had been staying with the Newtons, identified as Eirik Jorgensen, who stated that the couple had been “arguing heavily” in the days before the incident, and both had been “drinking more and more.”
The Nov. 25 fight began early in the day, Jorgensen stated, and at one point he went into the kitchen and allegedly saw AnnMari Newton holding a knife and facing her husband in a combative stance.
He also reported hearing Chad Newton yelling, “If you try to stab me with that knife I will kill you.”
Jorgensen told investigators that he heard a scream while his back was to the couple and turned around to see Chad Newton lying face down on the floor, bleeding.
AnnMari Newton told detectives that she and her husband had been in the kitchen when they started arguing, and that she was holding a knife, which she thrust toward him and stabbed him.
She told authorities that it was an accident. She said she had been standing with her back to him, and that she had made a stabbing motion with the knife to warn her husband to back off, without realizing how close he had been standing to her.
The couple’s children were home at the time of the fight, according to investigators, and were unharmed and placed with family friends.
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