Whitefish Road Rage Suspect Has Long Criminal History

Christopher Robert Showen was acquitted of murdering Olney teen in 1999

By Justin Franz

The Whitefish man accused of shooting at two motorcyclists on Aug. 2 has a checkered criminal history and was previously charged with murder.

Christopher Robert Showen, 34, was acquitted of killing an 18-year-old Olney man in 1999. He was also sentenced to a year in prison following a drive-by shooting in Alaska in 2004 and was involved in a shooting at the Eureka police station in 2005.

Showen was just 19 years old when he stood trial for the murder of Carl John “C.J.” Storkson. According to court documents, Storkson, Showen and some other teens had been snorting crank on the night of April 6, 1998, when Storkson was shot in the back of the head on a back road between Columbia Falls and Whitefish. Storkson, who lived in Olney, was reported missing three days later and his body was found in a shallow grave in the Stillwater State Forest. His burned-out vehicle was also found nearby.

During a three-week trial, prosecutors argued to a jury that Showen had killed his childhood friend and later buried the body. The jury found Showen not guilty after Showen’s attorney Phyllis Quatman orchestrated a defense that found numerous discrepancies in the witnesses’ version of events.

Five years later, Showen pleaded guilty to misdemeanor misconduct involving weapons following a drive-by shooting in Wasilla, Alaska. According to a news story in the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, Showen was involved in an argument with a woman at a party on May 9, 2004, and as he left the bonfire, he leaned out of a vehicle’s passenger-side window and fired several shots into the air before firing several more at the woman. Showen spent a year in prison for the offense.

Less than two years later, Showen was involved in another shooting, this time at the Eureka police station. According to a Western News story, on the night of Dec. 18, 2005, Showen, Mark Nelson and Jennifer Nelson were arrested at the VFW in Eureka following an altercation with a police officer. Mark Nelson, Jennifer Nelson’s father, and Showen were charged with disorderly conduct and released.

But Jennifer, who was dating Showen at the time, remained incarcerated so that law enforcement could conduct a mental health evaluation. A short while later, Mark Nelson returned to the police station with a shotgun and demanded his daughter be released before firing a round of buckshot at an officer. The officer returned fire, hitting Nelson three times. Moments later, police found Showen sitting in Nelson’s car outside with the motor running and a handgun, a shotgun and a rifle.

Showen was charged with conspiracy to commit assault with a weapon. He entered an Alford plea and was given a five-year suspended sentenced to the Department of Corrections. An Alford plea is filed when a defendant believes that they are innocent but knows the prosecution has enough evidence to find them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The suspended sentence was later revoked after he was arrested for violating his probation.

This week, Showen was charged with felony assault with a weapon following a road rage incident on Aug. 2.

According to the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office and court documents, shortly after 7 p.m., Aug. 2, emergency dispatch received a report of shots being fired on Trumble Creek Road near Columbia Falls. The victim and his girlfriend told police that they were riding their motorcycle when a reckless driver passed them in the Creston area. As they passed, the occupants of the vehicle reportedly made obscene gestures at the bikers.

The couple on the motorcycle followed the vehicle in an attempt to get the license plate number. As the vehicle approached the intersection of Trumble Creek and Hodgson roads, a male passenger, later identified as Showen, reportedly leaned out of the car and began firing a handgun at the couple on the motorcycle. No one was hit or injured. The couple stopped following the vehicle and called police.

Police tracked the vehicle to Whitefish where officers arrested Showen.

If convicted, Showen could spend 20 years in prison and face a fine of $50,000.