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Wood found guilty of deliberate homicide

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A Sanders County jury found a Polson woman guilty of deliberate homicide after a full day of deliberations. The trial of Danielle Jeanette Wood, 56, of Polson, began in Thompson Falls Jan. 19. 

Closing arguments were heard the morning of Jan. 28. The jury began their deliberations that afternoon and reached their guilty verdict at about noon on Jan. 29.

Wood was accused of shooting and killing her ex-boyfriend and the father of her child, Matthew George LaFriniere, 51, on May 2, 2018. The two “were involved in a protracted custody dispute that resulted in Matthew obtaining primary custody” of the daughter, according to court records.

Records continued to state, a co-worker of LaFriniere discovered the man’s body under a piece of plywood at LaFriniere’s residence in Thompson Falls on May 3, 2018. He had been shot multiple times.

On May 8, 2018, law enforcement searched Wood’s residence and found a receipt from Ronan

Sports and Western, dated March 15, 2018, for a new handgun purchased for $329.99. A search of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives transaction records showed that Wood purchased a .38 special caliber revolver from Ronan Sports and Western on March 15, 2018. The search also turned up a planner/calendar that contained an entry for March 15, 2018, that was crossed out but could visibly be seen. It read “sweet bliss.”

Wood later claimed to have thrown the gun away. A Firearms and Toolmark Report from a firearms examiner with the Montana State Crime Lab showed a bullet removed from LaFriniere’s hand is consistent with the .38 caliber firearm purchased by Wood.

Prosecutors say Wood hosted a cooking gadgets party the evening of May 2, 2018, and left for about an hour during the party, which is about the same time LaFriniere’s neighbors say they heard what sounded like shots fired, and LaFriniere’s stepmother reported seeing Wood at LaFriniere’s residence at about the same time. Prosecutors also provided expert testimony that showed a disposable phone used by LaFriniere was in close proximity to Wood’s cellphone the evening of May 2, 2018.

District Judge Deborah “Kim” Christopher set sentencing for March 2. Wood remains in custody.

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