Creston Murderer Accused of Drug Possession

Robert Wittal pleaded not guilty to felony drug possession a month after being convicted of murder

By Justin Franz
Robert Wittal, left, and his attorney Steven Scott in Flathead County District Court on Oct. 17, 2016. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

A month after he was convicted of murdering a 35-year-old Kalispell man, Robert Matthew Wittal was back in court on drug and gun charges stemming from a 2015 incident.

Wittal, 29, pleaded not guilty to charges of felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs and misdemeanor carrying a concealed weapon at an arraignment on Nov. 17 in Flathead County District Court.

According to court records, a Montana Highway Patrol trooper stopped Wittal on U.S. Highway 93 in December 2015. Upon further investigation, the trooper realized Wittal had a warrant for his arrest and decided to take him into custody. As the trooper arrested Wittal, he asked if he had any weapons. Wittal said he had a gun inside his waistband but did not have a concealed weapon permit. Later, when Wittal was being processed at the Flathead County Detention Center, jail staff found a small bag of methamphetamine in his coat pocket.

In April 2016, Wittal was charged with the drug and gun offenses, but they took a backseat when allegations of murder surfaced against the defendant.

In May, Wittal stabbed Wade Allen Rautio to death in the woods east of Creston. The following month, Wittal and three others – David Vincent Toman, 21, Christopher Michael Hansen, 28, and Melisa Ann Crone, 29 – were all arrested on charges related to the murder. Wittal was charged with deliberate homicide while the other three were charged with accountability to homicide. Wittal was convicted of murder during a four-day trial in October. Wittal will be sentenced on Jan. 17, 2017.

Wittal is expected to stand trial on the new charges in February.

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