Two Creston Murder Suspects to Stand Trial Next Month

Jury trials for Robert Matthew Wittal and Melisa Ann Crone are tentatively scheduled to begin on Oct. 17

By Justin Franz
Melisa Crone appears in Flathead County District Court on July 7, 2016. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Two of the four people arrested in connection with the death of a Kalispell man earlier this year are expected to stand trial next month.

Jury trials for Robert Matthew Wittal and Melisa Ann Crone are tentatively scheduled to begin on Oct. 17.

Wittal, 29, has been charged with deliberate homicide and Crone, 29, has been charged with accountability to deliberate homicide in connection to the stabbing death of 35-year-old Wade Allen Rautio. Crone has also been charged with criminal possession of drugs.

Two other men, Christopher Michael Hansen, 28, and David Vincent Toman, 20, are also charged with accountability to deliberate homicide. Hansen and Toman are expected to stand trial in March 2017. All four suspects have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

According to court documents, Toman drove Rautio, Wittal and Hansen to an area off Foothills Road east of Creston. Once there, Wittal allegedly stabbed Rautio multiple times. Hansen also punched Rautio and provided Wittal with a second knife after Wittal lost the first one. Wittal then stabbed Rautio in the neck.

On June 13, the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a murder near Creston. Upon further investigation, they found Rautio’s body in a creek near Peters Ridge. All four suspects were apprehended within a few days.

Prosecutors believe that Rautio was killed at Crone’s request. According to witnesses, Crone believed that Rautio had stolen drugs from her.

All for suspects remain incarcerated in the Flathead County Detention Center.

If convicted, all four suspects could face maximum sentences of life imprisonment or the death penalty.

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