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Woman, 52, faces homicide

by The Western News
| December 13, 2011 12:36 PM

Hearing scheduled Dec. 23 in the Dec. 8 shooting of husband

A preliminary hearing for Kristina L. Welch, the rural Libby woman accused of killing her husband, is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 23, at the Justice Court in the Lincoln County Annex.

Welch, 52, is charged with deliberate homicide in the death of her husband, Charles Bryan Welch, 50, who was found dead in the couple’s home at 4410 Granite Lake Road on Thursday morning when police were summoned by a 911 call.

On Friday, Justice of the Peace Jay C. Sheffield denied bail for Welch, who appeared at the hearing in an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs.

Deliberate homicide is the most serious offense in Montana.

During the hearing, Lincoln County Deputy Attorney Joseph Cik, standing in for County Attorney Bernard Cassidy, said prosecutors were seeking $200,000 bail, which Sheffield denied.

“No bail. Not at this point,” Sheffield said.

Public Defender Courtney Nolan, representing Welch at the hearing, has requested a bond hearing.

Sheffield acknowledged, and then asked Welch whether she understood the charge against her and reaffirmed she is seeking a public defender.

Asked after the hearing, Cik was limited in what he could discuss, instead citing the on-going investigation. However, he did confirm Welch suffered “a single gunshot would to the upper torso.”

Asked about the caliber of the firearm, Cik said he could neither confirm nor deny the caliber, again indicating the investigation. Also, there seemed to be some confusion in the name of the victim.

Information on the case has been slow to be released, pending notification of next of kin, which Cik confirmed they had been notified.

“Yes. Yes, they have been notified,” Cik said shortly after the hearing.

After the hearing Friday, Carol Ramos, coordinator of the Lincoln County Victim/Witness Program, said she soon would begin assisting family members coping with the fatal shooting.

On Thursday, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputies received a 911 emergency call at 8:45 a.m. stating there had been a shooting at the residence south of town.

Police scanner traffic indicated the victim may have been shot much earlier than when the 911 call was made.

Asked whether that is the case, Cik could not confirm. However, police reports do not show a domestic disturbance at the rural Welch resident the night before.

Upon receiving the 911 call Thursday morning, sheriff’s deputies responded to the residence where they discovered the deceased.

At the time of the call, Lincoln County telecommunicators dispatched an ambulance, which upon finding the man deceased, recalled the ambulance.