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Testimony continues in Great Falls murder trial

Posted: 9:14 AM, Nov 15, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-15 11:16:11-05
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Testimony continued on Thursday in the trial of Brandon Craft, who is charged with deliberate homicide for the death of Adam Petzack in February 2016.

Petzack rented a small out-building from Craft on Gore Hill. Craft told investigators that he killed Petzack after he saw him performing an inappropriate sex act near Craft’s young daughter, but detectives testified that there was no evidence of that.

Prosecutors say after Craft murdered Petzack, hid his body and started a bank account to steal Petzack's military veteran's benefits. Craft and his now-former wife Katelyn were later arrested in Washington.

The couple later divorced and Katelyn subsequently pleaded guilty to two felony counts of deceptive practices. The trial was postponed several times for various reasons, including Brandon’s attorney being removed due to a conflict of interest, and an anonymous letter being dropped off at the courthouse alleging that Katelyn had more to do with Petzack's murder.

On Thursday, jurors heard testimony from:

  • Former Montana State Medical Examiner Dr. Nikki Mourtzinos – Took the jury through autopsy results and pictures of finding the body
  • Forensic anthropologist Dr. Ashley Kendall - formerly at the University of Montana and now teaches at Cal State Chico in California – she spoke about the gunshot wound
  • Montana State Forensic Science Division firearms analyst Travis Spinder - he is from Missoula – analyzed the bullet that went into the victim’s head.
  • Great Falls Police LT. Doug Mahlum – explained bank records and how they were spending the victim’s money
  • Brady Kingston- He lives in Great Falls and was a friend of Petzack – he said he called and called the police and they wouldn’t respond
  • Katelyn Kelly (former Craft) – said she didn’t kill Adam and wasn’t involved
  • Court documents obtained shortly after Craft was arrested provided the following information:

Petzack was a military veteran and rated at 100% disabled due to traumatic brain injury and PTSD. Petzack was receiving his VA benefits via direct deposit to his bank.

During the investigation into his disappearance, officers discovered that Petzack’s bank account exhibited a “regular pattern of usage” until February 9, 2016. After that date, the regular spending on the account stopped; the only activity for the next several week were his regularly-scheduled direct deposits from the VA.

On March 1, April 4, and May 2, the account was debited three times – each time for $1,400 – from “SQ CRAFT HOME GOSQ CO.” The SQ designation means that the charges were made using the Square credit-card processing service.

There was only one other debit to the account – a charge of $124,40 to the Best Western Kelly Inn in Billings. An officer investigating the case learned that Brandon had used to card to charge a room at the Kelly Inn on April 10, 2016.

On April 3, there had been an attempt to withdraw money from Petzack’s account at an ATM at 1st Liberty Federal Credit Union in Great Falls; the transaction was denied because the correct PIN was not provided.

On June 21, officers learned that the Square credit-card processing account had been opened by Katelyn Craft on Feb. 17, 2016. The Square account is linked to the account of Brandon Craft at 1st Liberty Credit Union. Several attempted transactions, ranging from $200 to $400, were recorded on May 16.

In late June, officers contacted Brandon at a home on 66th Avenue SW, and asked if he would come to the Great Falls Police Department for an interview. According to court documents, officers noted that Brandon’s voice was “quivering,” as if he was nervous, when he was told that they wanted to talk to him about Petzack.

Brandon told the officers that he had not seen or talked to Petzack since late January or early February. He indicated that Petzack had lived with him in Choteau, but then had moved back to Great Falls. Brandon later lost his job and moved back to Great Falls.

He said that Petzack’s home had flooded, so Brandon invited Petzack to stay with him, as he was just moving into his current residence. He told officers that Petzack declined the offer, and told Brandon that he was moving to Wyoming.

On June 30, officers obtained Petzack’s phone records from Verizon Wireless. They learned that the last phone calls between Petzack and Brandon were on Feb. 11.

On July 13, a family member of Brandon confirmed to officers that Petzack had lived with Brandon in Choteau, but said that when Brandon was moving back to Great Falls, Petzack “packed his truck and disappeared.” The family member said that she did not believe Petzack ever stayed with Brandon once Brandon moved back to Great Falls.

On July 22, an officer went to the home at 5029 66th Avenue SW, and saw that the property appeared to be vacant. The officer contacted the homeowner, who said that he had “evicted” Brandon and Katelyn because they were two months behind on paying their rent. The homeowner told the officer that the Crafts had moved out and abandoned the home on Friday, July 15.