Suspect in Deer Lodge murder cases appears in Hamilton courtroom - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana


Suspect in Deer Lodge murder cases appears in Hamilton courtroom

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53-year-old David Wayne Nelson, left, appeared in Ravalli County District Court Wednesday. (MTN News photo) 53-year-old David Wayne Nelson, left, appeared in Ravalli County District Court Wednesday. (MTN News photo)
Beverly Giannonatti (L) and Gregory Giannonatti (Family photos) Beverly Giannonatti (L) and Gregory Giannonatti (Family photos)

Prosecutors say David Wayne Nelson is responsible for two murders and 17 stolen silver bars in Deer Lodge earlier this fall. 

But presenting the case is a little more complex given that Nelson was recently paroled for criminal charges he committed back in 1999. 

53-year-old David Wayne Nelson denies he violated his probation by murdering two people in Deer Lodge and stealing their silver in late October.

Nelson stood before Judge Jeffrey Langton in Ravalli County District Court Wednesday morning where prosecutors filed a petition to revoke his suspended sentence for separate charges that were committed in the late 90s. 

There will be a special hearing for the revocation where prosecutors will provide the case given to them by Powell County Law Enforcement. 

"In this case, we're alleging he violated the terms of his probation by breaking the law, essentially, in committing the homicides," said Ravalli County Attorney William Fulbright. 

Ronald Piper, Defense Attorney, "Sounds like we're going to be trying a double homicide case in this court. There's a lot of discovery, I'm sure," said defense attorney Ronald Piper. "This is not your typical type of revocation." 

A date has not been set for the special hearing.

Nelson has not been charged with homicide, but prosecutors say he admitted to the murders of Beverly and Gregory Giannonatti.

Fulbright says he's confident that the state has a good case. 

"Powell County has developed a good investigation, it sounds like," Fulbright said. "It sounds like we'll be getting the evidence over here for the use in our hearing here, so it looks good." 

While awaiting his hearing, Nelson will be staying at the detention facility in Powell County. 

The man who is suspected of killing an elderly woman and her son to steal a cache of silver appeared in a Ravalli County courtroom on Wednesday morning.

David Wayne Nelson, 53, was arrested earlier this month for a parole violation after he admitted to involvement in the disappearance of 79-year old Beverly Giannonatti and her 57-year old son Gregory. 

Nelson denied prosecutors claims that he was involved in the Deer Lodge murders during Wednesday's intial hearing on a petition to revoke his probation on a Ravalli County charge.

A date for a new hearing in the case has not yet been set and Nelson remains behind bars in the Powell County jail.

The Giannonatti's had vanished in late October in Deer Lodge. Nelson later led the Powell County Sheriff to a remote location outside town where he had dumped the bodies.

Prosecutors later said Nelson had sold more than a dozen 100 ounce silver bars belonging to the Giannonattis at a Missoula exchange store within days of the couple's disappearance. 

Nelson had been out on parole after serving several years for a kidnapping and robbery case at a home in the Bitterroot Valley in the late 1990s. His parole was revoked, and Ravalli County Attorney Bill Fulbright has asked the court to erase his suspended sentence. 

Nelson hasn't been charged in connection with the Giannonattis' murder. 

- information from Robbie Reynold and Dennis Bragg included in this report

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