2020 Riverfront Trail murder trial starts

Zoe Buchli

The trial for a man accused of killing another man near the Riverfront Trail in Missoula in 2020 got started on Monday. 

Charles M. Covey, 44, is charged with deliberate homicide after he was arrested on suspicion of killing 65-year-old Lee Roy Nelson along the north bank of the Clark Fork River in November of 2020. He’s also charged with two counts of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, both felonies. 

Covey pleaded not guilty to the charges a few days after he was arrested. If Covey is found guilty by the 12-person jury, he faces a possible sentence of life imprisonment, or not less than 10 or more than 100 years in the Montana State Prison.

Robert Wilson gives witness testimony in Missoula District Court during the deliberate homicide trial of Charles Michael Covey.

Missoula County District Judge Shane Vannatta is presiding over the trial. Missoula County Deputy Attorneys Mac Bloom and Caitlin Creighton are prosecuting the case. Amanda Gordon, Daylon Martin and Jay Reno are representing Covey. 

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“The killer left Lee Roy for dead,” Bloom said during the prosecution’s opening statements. 

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