Jury Convicts Columbia Falls Man of Former Stepfather’s Murder

The jury delivered a guilty verdict against Zackary Matthew Maas Thursday evening following three hours of deliberation and after a four-day trial

By Maggie Dresser
Zackary Matthew Maas appears in Flathead County District Court in Kalispell on March 10, 2023. A jury convicted Maas of deliberate homicide for shooting a man in the back in March 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

A Flathead County jury on Thursday found Zackary Matthew Maas, 26, of Columbia Falls, guilty of deliberate homicide in the death of his former stepfather, who died last spring following a fatal shooting that occurred at the victim’s home in March 2022.

The verdict came in just before 7 p.m. on March 16 following about three hours of deliberation. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 11 at 9 a.m. Maas faces a maximum term of life in prison.

Judge Dan Wilson presided over the Flathead County District Court trial that began March 13. Deputy Flathead County Attorney Ashley Frechette prosecuted the case.

According to charging documents, law enforcement arrived at a Kalispell residence on March 13, 2022, at 4:30 a.m. on First Avenue West following a report of a shooting. Kalispell Police Department officers found a man, who was later identified as Gabriel Wagoner, lying face down at the top of a stairwell with a bullet wound in his back.

At the time of the incident, Wagoner explained that Maas and another person entered his home and confronted him prior to the shooting. Upon entering the home, Maas immediately pointed a gun at the victim’s head while his accomplice held him in a chokehold while Maas punched him.

After Wagoner was released from the chokehold, he opened the door for them to leave and Maas shot him in the back and fled the scene, according to court documents.

He was transported to Logan Health for medical treatment and was later transported to a medical center in Seattle.

On March 14, 2022, officers arrested Maas during a traffic stop in south Kalispell where he admitted to the shooting, charging records state.

Maas was originally charged with a felony count of assault with a weapon, but the charge was amended to deliberate homicide after Wagoner succumbed to injuries and died on April 14, 2022.

According to charging documents, an autopsy report from a medical examiner in Seattle revealed the manner of the victim’s death was a homicide “due to complications of (a) subacute gunshot wound to the back.”

After the initial charge, Maas was released from Flathead County Detention Center on March 18, 2022, after posting a $100,000 bond. Following the amended charge, he was booked in jail on April 14 with his bail set at $300,000.

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