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Crone changes plea in Rautio murder case - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

Crone changes plea in Rautio murder case

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Robert Wittal was sentenced in Flathead County District Court for stabbing and killing 35-year-old Wade Rautio Robert Wittal was sentenced in Flathead County District Court for stabbing and killing 35-year-old Wade Rautio
Melisa Crone (left), Christopher Hansen (center) and David Toman (right) Melisa Crone (left), Christopher Hansen (center) and David Toman (right)
KALISPELL -

Melisa Crone, accused of ordering the murder of 34-year-old Wade Rautio of Kalispell, pleaded guilty to a felony drug charge this week, but won't face a charge of accountability to murder.

Flathead County prosecutors dropped that charge against 29-year-old Crone in District Court on Wednesday. 

In the plea agreement Crone signed, she admits to dealing meth last June but maintains her innocence in conspiring in the death of Rautio.

Crone and three others - Robert Wittal, David Toman, and Christopher Hansen - were arrested in June following the discovery of Rautio's body in a creek near Creston.

Defense attorney Jason Bryan said in court that there may have been enough proof for a jury to believe Crone had a hand in Rautio's death.

"Ultimately you understood that there was enough evidence that was uncovered that if you were to be tried it was murky enough that under the laws of accountability you might possibly be found guilty by a jury and you didn't want to spend the rest of your life in jail," Bryan said.

Crone's sentence will be up to Judge Dan Wilson during a hearing in May. 

Wittal was convicted of Rautio's murder in October. He's now serving a 110-year sentence in the Montana State Prison. 

Cases against the other two defendants are pending.


(JUNE 15, 2016) Flathead County Undersheriff Dave Leib says that developments in the investigation into the homicide near Peters Ridge have resulted in two additional arrests. 

Melisa Crone, 29, and Christopher Hansen, 28, both of Kalispell, are now behind bars pending deliberate homicide charges in the death of Wade Allen Rautio, 35, according to Leib.

Robert Matthew Wittal of Kalispell, 29, was arrested Monday on a charge of deliberate homicide.

Leib says that the murder appears to have been drug-related.

The initial investigation shows that Rautio had been stabbed multiple times.

We will update you when we get more information. 


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Convicted Kalispell killer given 110 years in prison

Four suspects arrested in the murder of Wade Rautio

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