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Wood's bail request denied

Attorneys argue for lower bond


January 23, 2020

A judge denied a bail reduction for former Thompson Falls resident Danielle Wood during a hearing in 20th District Judicial Court on Tuesday.

Wood’s attorneys, Kirk Krutilla and Will Managhan, had argued for Wood’s $1 million bail to be reduced or for the judge to release her without bail to be on house arrest while living with her father in Washington state. Defense attorneys made the argument on Tuesday that contact with their client was difficult while she was in jail because of timing and recording of meetings.

Judge Deborah “Kim” Christopher denied the request from the attorneys, saying she wanted to keep Wood in a place where she was more available to counsel.

Wood is set to go to trial April 1 on a deliberate homicide charge in the death of Matthew LaFriniere, her former boyfriend, with whom she had a child. LaFriniere was found dead at his home east of Thompson Falls on Airport Road on May 3, 2018, after he did not show up for work.

“The bottom line for the court is if the state’s allegations are correct … then the risk … is significant,” Judge Christopher said, stating that the distance between Wood’s father’s home in Washington and Sanders County wouldn’t help the defendant’s counsel talk with her. “Sending the defendant clear to Washington doesn’t help,” Christopher stated.

Judge Christopher acknowledged that Wood did not leave the area after the incident (LaFriniere’s death). “The hard part for the court is consequences of a wrong call,” the judge said.

Montana Assistant Attorney General Daniel Guyzinski argued against the bail reduction, saying “the facts presented show this is a person who is calculated.… I think there is considerable safety risk and the facts support that.”

Managhan, one of Wood’s attorneys, said that Wood’s daughter was a reason for her not to run if she was released and added that “there are no real facts to suggest that Danielle is dangerous.” Managhan asked witnesses who testified Tuesday, including Wood’s mother and father and LaFriniere’s father, questions regarding their knowledge of Wood’s past criminal history, whether she had a history of violence, and her history of alcohol use. “She poses no real flight risk and no real danger,” Managhan said. “It’s easy to forget she’s presumed innocent.” Wood’s attorneys had asked for Judge Christopher to reduce bail to an amount she could afford.

Guyzinski and Managhan questioned agent Kevin McCarvel with the Montana Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation on Tuesday. While Guyzinski questioned McCarvel about custody of Wood’s daughter as a motive for the homicide, Managhan asked McCarvel about a love triangle and the possibility that Wood’s boyfriend at the time of the homicide was involved. Managhan asked McCarvel why Wood’s boyfriend’s property wasn’t searched during the investigation, to which McCarvel said there was not probable cause to search the property at that time.

Guyzinski entered into evidence at Tuesday’s hearing pictures of Wood’s bathroom mirror that investigators took following LaFriniere’s death. McCarvel described one of the pictures of the mirror as having the handwritten words “You are worth it. She will be home soon!” with the words “for good” between home and soon. “I believe Miss Wood does love her daughter,” McCarvel said during the bail modification hearing, but added there was concern for the people taking care of her.

Wood did not address the court on Tuesday, though she appeared in person with her attorneys. After her father stepped down from the witness stand, she quietly said “thank you” to him.

“It’s clear to the court that the defendant is goal oriented and plans events,” Christopher stated, adding that Wood is focused on achieving her goals. “By the same token, she does have issues with alcohol and depression,” Christopher said of the defendant.

Wood and LaFriniere’s child has been in the care of family members since Wood was arrested March 20, 2019. During a prior hearing, attorneys told Judge Christopher they expect the trial to last one to two weeks.


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