Wood sentenced to 100 years
Former Thompson Falls resident proclaims innocence at hearing
March 4, 2021
Former Thompson Falls resident Danielle Wood on Tuesday was sentenced to 100 years in the Montana State Women’s Prison without the possibility of parole. Wood appeared in 20th District Judicial Court before Judge Deborah “Kim” Christopher, who imposed the sentence. Wood was found guilty in January of deliberate homicide in the death of Matthew LaFriniere.
Prosecutors recommended Wood be sentenced to a term of life without without parole. “Danielle killed for the sole purpose of taking Matt away from [their daughter],” said Assistant Attorney General Stephanie Robles, who ended her statement by saying that “she didn’t think about [their daughter] and all she was taking away from her.”
Greg Rapcock, Wood’s defense attorney, recommended a sentence of 10 years and said, “Danielle still maintains her innocence.” After her defense spoke, Wood stood to give a final statement in tears, “I did not kill Matt.” She continued that she did not help anyone else kill him, nor does she know who did.
“This successful prosecution and strong sentencing were the result of the cooperation between the Sanders County Sheriff’s Office, Department of Justice prosecutors and investigators, and the local community," Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen said after the sentencing. "Montanans are appreciative of their hard work to deliver justice for Matthew LaFriniere and his family.”
Three witnesses testified at the sentencing hearing on Tuesday, including George LaFriniere, Matt’s father. George LaFriniere was near tears throughout his statement. “[Matt and Danielle’s daughter] has been put under great undue stress for 13-plus months,” he said. He spoke about his experience and the nightmares that had been caused by the death of his son.
Tina Arrington also spoke at the hearing. LaFriniere was married to Arrington’s mother previously. Arrington told the court that Wood only let Matt’s child visit her grandmother if she paid Wood money, and that Arrington had loaned money to the grandmother for that purpose. “How could you do that to her, Danielle? That is your daughter, too,” said Arrington, telling Wood that she had taken everything from her daughter and that she could never see her father’s face when she graduated. “Sweet and innocent [daughter], she truly lost the most.”
Finally, Matt’s friend Chad Cantrell provided a statement to the court. He addressed his letter to the judge and asked that she impose the maximum possible sentence. “Not only has Danielle deprived [her daughter] of her daddy, but she has deprived her of her mother as well,” he said.
“I have seen homicides of every possible fashion,” said Judge Christopher before imposing the sentence. She continued, “The court can find mitigation in that there is no prior criminal history, however, that is not unusual in homicides as they are a crime of passion.” She went on to mention that with the fact that the murder strongly appeared to have been premeditated, and that there appeared to be great danger to the community, she had no choice but to pronounce a sentence of no less than 100 years without the possibility of parole. Judge Christopher ended, saying that this crime was “more deliberate than any of the homicide cases that have been sat on by this court in the last 20 years.”
Assistant Attorney General Daniel Guzynski stated that he and the family were pleased with the sentence imposed by the court.