News & Features

Woman Accused of Ordering Murder of Kalispell Man to Change Plea

Melisa Ann Crone was one of four people arrested in June following the murder of Wade Allen Rautio

The 29-year-old woman accused of ordering the murder of a 34-year-old Kalispell man is scheduled to appear in court at a change of plea hearing on March 15.

During a pre-trial conference on March 8, Melisa Ann Crone’s attorney Jason Bryan said that he and prosecutors had reached a plea deal in the case. The plea agreement was not yet available in court documents.

Crone was one of four people arrested in June 2016 following Wade Allen Rautio’s murder near Creston. According to court documents, Crone ordered Robert Wittal, Christopher Michael Hansen and David Vincent Toman to kill Rautio, who was living in her Evergreen home at the time. Wittal was charged with deliberate homicide, and Crone, Hansen and Tomen were charged with accountability to deliberate homicide. Crone was also charged with criminal possession of drugs.

Wittal was convicted at trial in October 2016 and sentenced to 110 years in prison earlier this year.

Crone was expected to stand trial later this month. The two remaining co-defendants – Hansen and Toman – are still set to stand trial later this month, although plea agreement negotiations are ongoing.