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Neighbor tells tales of alleged altercations

by The Western News
| January 5, 2012 12:53 PM

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Welch 80

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Welch 78

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Welch 77

Greens were neighbors of Welches, recall tales of an embattled history

After an alleged October 2010 incident with neighbor Kristina Lynn Welch, Justin Green knew one day there would be an altercation that would end badly.

Green, an acupuncturist with an office in both Libby and Kalispell, owns property adjacent to Kristina and Charles Bryan Welch, who was fatally shot Dec. 8. Kristina Welch has been charged in the killing. The Welches and Greens are next-door neighbors on Granite Lake Road, just south of Libby.

Fourteen months ago, Green prepared for work and drove down the tree-lined drive from his home toward Granite Lake Road only to find a tree on the Welch’s property had blown down and was lying across his drive blocking his exit onto the road.

“It was obvious, I would have to take the day off to clear the driveway,” Green said.

Green labored with his chainsaw to trim the branches, neatly stacking them on the side of the driveway adjacent to the Welch’s property.

As he labored, the chainsaw noise summoned Kristina Welch.

“I turned and there she was, screaming at me, and I stopped,” Green said. “I turned to acknowledge her, and she’s pointing this pistol at me.

   “Whoa! I said. Hey, I’m just clearing my driveway,” Green recalled.

    “Let me be clear: She immediately lowered the gun and pointed it at the ground,” Green said.  “She accused me of cutting her tree, and I told her it fell, and I needed to clear my driveway to the road,” Green said, recalling how he pleaded his case.

   “I’m standing there, and she’s screaming at me. All of a sudden she fires the gun. Right next to her foot, in the ground. At this point, I’m shaking,” Green said.

   “She stormed off and said she’s going in to call the sheriff,” Green said.

   “I’m thinking: ‘She’s going to call the police?! She fired a gun, after threatening me, and she’s calling the police.’”

   “After that day, I knew this one day would end in a bad way. I thought it would be one of us, my wife or me,” Green said. “I never thought it would be Bryan,” Green said during an interview Monday at his home at 4404 Granite Lake Road.

   Green was asked about the handgun he alleges Kristina Welch fired into the ground that October morning 14 months ago. Police have seized a Smith & Wesson revolver after Bryan Welch was shot.

   “I don’t know guns,” Green said. “I guess you could go right over there and dig it up.”

   The Welches lived at 4410, adjacent to the Greens’ drive.

   The Welches’drive veers left toward their log home. The Greens’ driveway parallels the Welch property up a hill and then curves right more than a tenth-mile back.

   The Greens have lived in the home for 8-1/2 years, the last three as owners. And almost from the day the Welches moved in, there has been agitation, Green said.

   “We have an easement on the logging road that parallels our property,” Green said. “It’s been something of an issue for them, both of them — Bryan and Kristina — although since then (October 2010) Bryan had gotten better,” Green said. “Up until he died, he was even waving at us as we exited our drive. Kristina, on the other hand, would give us (the one-finger salute),” Green said.

   During the interview, Green recalled incident upon incident with the Welches, admitting Bryan Welch had used a game camera to capture photos of the Greens’ dog, Blue, a yellow Labrador retriever trespassing on the Welch property.

   “We acknowledge that,” Green said. “We paid the fine, and I set up this (run) line for Blue to run.”

   Green said the repeated confrontations have had an effect on his wife, Kristen.

   “There was terror,” Kristen Green said. “She’d come out waving this gun, and it would scare me to death. There were three years of horrible altercations.”

   Kristen Green, who posted to The Western News’ Web site commenting on Bryan Welch’s death, said “I’m glad its over. It’s just so sad someone had to die to get it to end.”

   Kristen Green said contributing to her terror was what she perceived as inaction by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department.

   “They just said they couldn’t do anything until she ‘does’ something,” Kristen Welch said. “It just seems something could have been done to avoid all this.”

   Justin Green said he understands his wife’s frustration, but “you can’t arrest someone for something they might do.”

   Lincoln County Sheriff Roby Bowe said his deputies are familiar with the area of Granite Lake Road, as his officers have responded to the numerous jurisdiction and snow-plowing disputes.

    “Kristina was really …,” Justin Green said pausing. “I think it was rage. Her actions were so much more than anger. I feared it would someday actually come to something like this.”