Sanders County Ledger - Your Best Source For Sanders County News

By John Dowd 

State tests gun found in river

Serial number matches pistol purchased by Danielle Wood



The serial number on a firearm found Sunday afternoon at the Flat Iron Fishing access site west of Thompson Falls matches that of a firearm purchased by former Thompson Falls Danielle Wood in 2018, according to court documents filed this week state.

Wood is currently serving a 100-year sentence at the Montana State Women's Prison. According to a motion filed Tuesday in 20th Judicial District Court, the Sanders County Sheriff's Office (SCSO) was notified that a male had found a pistol in the water on Sunday. A SCSO deputy responded, took photos of the firearm and secured it into evidence.

The serial number of the gun found in the Clark Fork River matches the firearm purchased by Wood at Ronan Sports and Western in March 2018, court documents state.

Sanders County Sheriff Tom Rummel last week confirmed the firerm was found by a man who was looking for crawfish in the river.

Testimony in Wood's trial earlier this year showed the gun was purchased less than two months before Matthew LaFriniere of Thompson Falls was shot and killed at his home near the Thompson Falls Airport.

During the trial, a witness stated that Wood had told him she got rid of the firearm she purchased. The murder weapon was not found during the state's investigation into LaFriniere's death.

LaFriniere was found dead at his home on May 3, 2018. Wood, who was living in Polson at the time of her arrest in March 2019, was found guilty of deliberate homicide in January 2021. In March 2021, Judge Deborah "Kim" Christopher sentenced Wood to 100 years in prison without the possibility of parole.

Daniel Guzynski with the State Attorney General's office, who prosecuted Wood's case, filed the motion June 22 requesting release of evidence from Wood's trial – a bullet that was recovered from LaFriniere's body – to compare to the firearm found this week. "Now that Ms. Wood's gun has been located, the State would like to have the bullet recovered during the autopsy analyzed by the Montana State Crime Lab to determine whether the bullet was fired by the gun purchased by Ms. Wood and subsequently found in the Clark Fork River," Guzynski wrote in the motion.

Guzynski told The Ledger that a result on the new investigation should be available within days. "In my discussion with the Montana State Crime Lab, they explained that they will make this a priority."


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