Whitefish Man With Long Criminal History Arrested in California

Christopher Robert Showen was arrested in California last week after skipping sentencing hearing earlier this summer

By Justin Franz

A Whitefish man accused of shooting at two motorcyclists last summer and then skipped out on his sentencing hearing was arrested for bail jumping in California.

Christopher Robert Showen was arrested in Vacaville, California on Sept. 2 and will be extradited back to Montana, according to Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry.

Police officers in California were looking for Showen to question him about suspected drug activity when they discovered he had a warrant for his arrest in Montana, Curry said.

According to court records, on Aug. 2, 2014, the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office 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 fired a handgun at the couple on the motorcycle. No one was hit or injured. The couple pulled over and called police. Law enforcement tracked the vehicle to Whitefish where they arrested Showen. He was charged with felony assault with a weapon.

Earlier this year, Showen entered an Alford plea to the charges in return for a recommended 10-year suspended sentence to the Department of Corrections. Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges that sufficient evidence exists to convince of jury of their guilt.

However, Showen skipped his sentencing hearing earlier this summer and a judge signed a warrant for his arrest.

The road rage incident was not Showen’s first run in with the law. Showen was 19 years old when he stood trial for the 1999 murder of Carl John “C.J.” Storkson. During the three-week trial, prosecutors argued that Showen had shot and killed his childhood friend and later buried the body. The jury found Showen not guilty after defense 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. 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. The suspended sentence was later revoked after he was arrested for violating his probation.