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Brandon Lee Craft Sentenced to 110 Years in 2016 MT Murder of Adam Petzack
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Thread: Brandon Lee Craft Sentenced to 110 Years in 2016 MT Murder of Adam Petzack

  1. #1
    Senior Member CnCP Addict Steven's Avatar
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    Huntsville, Texas

    Brandon Lee Craft Sentenced to 110 Years in 2016 MT Murder of Adam Petzack

    Craft trial for 2016 murder of disabled vet Adam Petzack gets underway

    By Traci Rosenbaum
    Great Falls Tribune

    More than three years after the murder of 28-year-old Great Falls resident and disabled veteran Adam Petzack, jury selection begins Tuesday for the trial of Brandon Lee Craft, who is accused of deliberate homicide in the case.

    A total pool of 300 potential jurors was polled for the trial, which is expected to last at least through Monday. Preliminary selection will begin at Montana ExpoPark, but officials hope to have the pool narrowed enough after Tuesday to fit in the courthouse.

    As the process progresses, jurors will be questioned and eliminated based on a number of factors until a group of twelve jurors with two to three alternates has been selected.

    Cascade County District Judge Elizabeth Best is presiding over the trial.

    Petzack, a disabled veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, was initially reported as a missing person after he was last seen by friends on or about Feb. 9, 2016.

    In August of that year, Petzack's body was found buried on property rented by Craft on 66th Avenue Southwest, and Craft was charged with deliberate homicide, tampering with evidence and exploitation of an older person, incapacitated person or person with a developmental disability.

    Craft told detectives he had found Petzack masturbating in his family's trailer in the middle of the night and "lost it" when he discovered his young daughter lying in the bed naked.

    Craft stated he grabbed a .22 rifle and followed Petzack outside, where he shot him in the head before burying him in the "barn" on his property on the southwest side of Great Falls.

    According to court documents, Craft admitted to pawning the weapon he used, selling Petzack's truck and abandoning his service dog somewhere on the way to Valier.

    The dog was never found.

    Court documents also report that Craft and his wife Katelyn set up a Square account linked to the account where Petzack received his VA benefit payments via direct deposit, receiving debits from Petzack's account totaling $1,400 over three months.

    Katelyn Craft was charged with felony exploitation in September 2016 but later accepted a plea deal to plead guilty to two counts of felony deceptive practices and to disclose information about the alleged killing of Petzack.

    While the Crafts were married at the time of the alleged killing, Cascade County Attorney Josh Racki said some information, such as certain conversations to which only the two were party, will be covered by spousal immunity, while the acts themselves will not.

    Originally set for November 2018, Craft's trial was postponed a month before its scheduled date after a new witness created a conflict of interest for one of Craft's attorneys.

    According to Racki, the new witness claimed he was Crafts cellmate and said Craft confessed to him that he committed the crime.

    Attorney Vince van der Hagen, who also represented the new witness, was forced to withdraw as counsel for both men, and Larry Lafountain was appointed as his replacement.

    The trial was continued again on May 24 when an anonymous letter was received by Judge Best's office claiming that Katelyn Craft killed Petzack and admitted the crime to three people.

    All three people mentioned in the letter denied that Katelyn Craft made any admission to them, but LaFountain asked for more time to investigate the letter's origin, and the trial was reset to July 8.

    That date was also postponed, however, due to the pregnancy of major witness Katelyn Craft.

    Brandon Craft's trial will begin immediately after a jury is selected. If convicted, Craft could face life in prison or the death penalty on the homicide charge.

    Last edited by Steven; 11-19-2019 at 11:35 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member CnCP Addict Steven's Avatar
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    Opening statements launch homicide trial of Brandon Craft

    By Traci Rosenbaum
    Great Falls Tribune

    After numerous continuances since the 2016 death of disabled veteran Adam Petzack, it's perhaps a cruel irony that the homicide trial of Brandon Lee Craft begins on the week of Veterans Day.

    According to Cascade County Attorney Josh Racki, Craft is charged with deliberate homicide, evidence tampering for burying the body and two counts of deceptive practices for the sale of Petzack’s pickup truck and the theft of Petzack’s military benefits after his death.

    A jury of twelve with three alternates narrowed down from a field of 300 heard opening arguments Wednesday.

    Jury selection finished up before noon, and the jurors were assembled before Cascade County District Judge Elizabeth Best to hear opening statements from Racki and defense attorney Larry LaFountain.


    “We are here today because the defendant, Brandon Craft, shot Adam Petzack in the back of the head with a .22. He killed Adam,” Racki told the jury. “After he killed Adam, he drug Adam out to his barn, dug a shallow grave in the barn’s dirt floor and unceremoniously buried Adam under an animal stall.

    “He then would go on to steal Adam’s VA (Veteran’s Affairs) pension benefits and Adam’s other bank funds,” Racki continued. “He would steal Adam’s truck and sell it, and he would get rid of Adam’s property.”

    Based on cell phone and bank records, the prosecution intends to prove that Petzack was killed either late Feb. 11 or early Feb. 12, 2016. Racki said he disposed of Petzack’s service dog and personal property and asked his wife to post Petzack’s truck on Craigslist.

    Racki went on to describe how, using Petzack’s debit card, Craft allegedly had his wife set up a Square account.

    Square is a program meant to allow private merchants to be able to accept credit or debit card payments using a swipe attachment that plugs into a mobile phone or tablet.

    When Petzack’s veteran’s benefits came into his account, the Crafts allegedly swiped his card and transferred the money to their own account.

    Racki said the hotel room for a family trip to Billings was also paid for using Petzack’s debit card.

    The police at this time were unaware Petzack was dead. Racki said Petzack was listed as a missing person, but his family refused to give up, telling police that something was wrong.

    The investigation into what happened to Petzack began with a look at his finances, and detectives noticed the strange activity.

    When police visited Craft to question him about the case, Racki said he told them he didn’t know where Petzack was and didn’t have time for an interview.

    Shortly after that, Craft left Montana and moved to Washington, where he was again questioned by police and eventually arrested.

    Racki played a portion of that interview for the jury during which Craft claims he caught Petzack masturbating on the couch.

    He said after catching Petzack, he walked into his daughter’s room and saw she was naked and uncovered, and he then got his .22 rifle and shot Petzack.

    “Keep in mind this is his first story,” said Racki.

    Racki described how Craft drew police a map to Petzack’s body and was arrested in Washington.

    From jail, Racki said Craft started writing letters saying that the homicide was what he was running from and stating that his wife had no knowledge of it. In one, he reportedly reminded his grandmother that Katelyn Craft had been at her house at the time of the murder.

    A month later, Racki told the jury, Craft wrote another letter to his wife saying he was going to try for self-defense and asking her not to touch Petzack’s gun because it had Petzack’s fingerprints on it and Craft would need it for his defense.

    A second search of the couple’s property after it was brought back from Washington found a .22 pistol loaded with copper jacket bullets and one round fired.

    “Then something changed,” Racki said. “Katelyn (Craft) began seeing another man….so the defendant sent another letter to his grandma, and he began to spin a new story.”

    Racki said Craft instructed his grandmother to get rid of his first letter and tell the police that Katelyn wasn’t at her house and that she had hated Petzack.

    In May of this year, on the eve of one of Craft’s previous trial dates, Judge Best received an anonymous letter claiming Katelyn Craft had confessed to three different people that she had killed Petzack.

    When questioned, all three said the letter’s claims weren’t true, and the letter itself had Craft’s grandmother’s fingerprints on it and was found to be written by a cousin of Craft’s.

    Katelyn Craft has already pleaded guilty to her part in stealing Petzack’s money and was not charged with having any connection to the homicide.


    “The state at this point has presented a lot of information,” began defense attorney Larry LaFountain. “They’ve had since 2016 to investigate this case…they’ve told you that basically they have all of the evidence and that this is airtight.”

    What the prosecution does not address, LaFountain told the jury, is the source of a lot of their information: Katelyn Craft.

    LaFountain claimed that Katelyn had told people several different accounts of the events in question, including one in which she was present when the homicide occurred

    In another of these scenarios, she and Brandon Craft planned the murder together, deciding that Katelyn would lure Petzack into bed with her, and then Brandon would jump out of a closet and shoot him.

    Another time, she allegedly told someone she came home and found Petzack already dead, although forensic analysis of the carpet inside the trailer found no blood.

    Later, she allegedly said she was in the trailer with Craft and Petzack when she heard a gunshot, then ran to see what happened and saw Petzack was dead.

    According to LaFountain, Katelyn Craft told none of these stories to police.

    LaFountain pointed out that it was Katelyn who posted Petzack’s truck for sale and met with the buyer, it was Katelyn’s phone that was used to launch the Square account and, even though Brandon Craft had reserved their Billings hotel room using his own credit card, it was Katelyn who gave him Petzack’s debit card to use to pay for the room on their family trip.

    LaFountain also claimed that the activity on Petzack’s phone stopped on Feb. 9 and 10, and that is when he was killed instead of on the 11th or 12th as the prosecution claims.

    On the defense’s timeline, Brandon Craft would’ve been in Helena when the murder was committed, LaFountain said.

    The trial will resume Thursday with the prosecution’s witness testimony. Racki plans to call 15 witnesses and believes the state’s case will rest by Monday.

    Last edited by Steven; 11-15-2019 at 09:18 AM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member CnCP Addict Steven's Avatar
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    Bullets and bank statements: Craft homicide trial finishes first day of testimony

    By Traci Rosenbaum
    Great Falls Tribune

    Much of Thursday afternoon was consumed with firearm forensics and sifting months of financial records for the jury as the homicide trial of Brandon Lee Craft concluded its first day of testimony.

    Craft is accused of shooting 28-year-old Adam Petzack, burying him in a barn on his Gore Hill property and siphoning his military pension benefits in 2016.

    After lunch, Montana State Forensic Science Division firearms analyst Travis Spinder explained to the jury the process of examining markings on a fired bullet.

    The bullet recovered from Petzack’s body was a copper-washed or plated .22 caliber of unknown manufacture.

    Of the six .22 caliber firearms recovered by law enforcement in the case, Spinder was able to eliminate four. The remaining two had a consistent number of markings, but they could not be positively identified as the weapon that killed Petzack.

    “The bullet in this particular case, it wasn’t in the best of shape. There weren’t a lot of markings for me to look at,” Spinder said, later adding that because of damage and decomposition, “I don’t think there’d be enough identifying marks for me to identify it even if I did get the gun.”

    On cross-examination, defense attorney Larry LaFountain verified with Spinder that the bullet that killed Petzack could have been fired from a gun that was never recovered by investigators.

    Great Falls Police Department Lt. Doug Mahlum took the stand next, detailing for the jury the initial attempts to locate Petzack after friends and family reported him missing.

    In checking up on the attempt to locate, Mahlum found that Petzack was a veteran receiving benefits and felt that might be a lead into his whereabouts.

    After he found that the benefits were being received via direct deposit, Mahlum got a subpoena for Petzack’s bank records.

    After examining the transaction history, Mahlum noticed a change on the February 2016 statement.

    “This time period definitely got my attention,” Mahlum said.

    According to Mahlum, the regular purchases for food, auto parts and other daily incidentals stopped, and a series of withdrawals began taking out $1,400 each month after Petzack’s military pension was deposited.

    The withdrawals were paid to a Square account bearing Craft’s name.

    Mahlum also noted the use of Petzack’s debit card to pay for a hotel room in Billings and verified that Adam Petzack did not stay at the hotel.

    An employee said the room was signed for by Brandon Craft but paid with Petzack’s debit card. Based on his findings, Mahlum requested that the bank freeze the account and notify law enforcement of any further transactions.

    Mahlum then turned the case over to detectives.

    Brady Kingston, who was one of the last people to hear from Petzack, became worried after he received an invitation to dinner from his friend and Petzack never followed through.

    His final communication from Petzack was a voice message on Feb. 9, 2016, talking about his pickup and how he was looking for transmission parts.

    “Was Adam frequently looking for auto parts?” Cascade County Attorney Josh Racki asked.

    There were chuckles from the gallery as Kingston answered yes.

    After Adam went missing, Kingston said he tried unsuccessfully to contact the Crafts but did run into them once at Walmart.

    “(Brandon) said he hadn’t heard from him and he came home one day, and Adam and the pickup were gone and he figured Adam had left to go live off-grid somewhere,” Kingston said.

    The final witness heard Thursday was Brandon Craft’s ex-wife, Katelyn.

    The Crafts were divorced in 2017, and Katelyn has since remarried and introduced herself to the court using the last name Zdeb.

    Zdeb is also Craft’s co-defendant in the financial aspects of this case and took a plea agreement in April 2018 promising to testify against her former husband in exchange for the state not putting forth a sentencing recommendation in her case.

    Zdeb testified that Petzack had lived in her home several times in multiple locations during her marriage to Craft.

    She described Petzack as a hard worker and a decent person who would do anything he could to help people.

    “I think we should get the obvious question out of the way,” said Assistant Cascade County Attorney Kory Larsen early on. “Katelyn, did you kill Adam Petzack?”

    “I did not,” Zdeb replied.

    On the day in question, Feb. 11, 2016, Zdeb said she talked to Petzack about ordinary day-to-day matters before leaving that morning. That was the last time she ever saw him, she said.

    Late that evening, Zdeb testified that Craft mentioned he wanted to help Petzack get his truck sold. It wasn’t out of the ordinary, she said, as the truck had many mechanical problems and Petzack had talked about selling it in the past.

    The next morning, she put an ad on Craigslist, and the truck sold right away. Shortly after, she said she set up a Square account at Brandon’s request. The two had an agreement for child support, and he said he wanted to keep a record of it using Square.

    Zdeb denied ever personally using or witnessing Craft use Adam’s card to transfer money using Square.

    Prosecutors spent quite some time going over the couple’s financial records, detailing large cash withdrawals that Zdeb claims not to have made, saying she would only withdraw “$100 at most” in cash at any one time.

    Zdeb reported not seeing Petzack, his dog or any of his belongings after the morning of Feb. 11. When she asked Craft about it, he told her he and Petzack had had a falling-out and they shouldn’t try to contact him, a situation Zdeb said had also happened before.

    She testified she didn’t even know Petzack had been reported missing until just before she was arrested and did not know he was dead until she was interrogated by police.

    Prosecutors asked Zdeb to read over a letter Craft sent from jail to his daughter that addressed Katelyn, saying, in part, “Stick to what I said and nothing else. I’m going to try for self-defense.”

    The letter relates the location of Petzack’s gun and gives Zdeb instructions on what to do with it to aid in his defense.

    Zdeb denied on the stand telling anyone anything about Petzack’s death, including several different scenarios where she was present for or involved in the homicide.

    She said she has never, to anyone, confessed to killing Petzack.

    Testimony continues Friday with the case’s main investigator and a criminal intelligence analyst expected to take up the bulk of the day.

    The state expects to rest its case Monday.


  4. #4
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    Witness: Craft's ex-wife 'orchestrated' Petzack's murder

    By Traci Rosenbaum
    Great Falls Tribune

    Witnesses testifying Friday afternoon in the homicide trial of Brandon Lee Craft suggest that his ex-wife Katelyn Craft had more to do with the 2016 murder of Adam Petzack than she claims.

    Craft has been accused of shooting 28-year-old Adam Petzack in the back of the head, burying him in a barn on his property and siphoning his military benefits in 2016.

    In her testimony, Craft’s ex-wife Katelyn Zdeb said she did set up the Square account used to steal Petzack’s benefits, but she maintains she had no knowledge of the murder and subsequent theft of funds.

    Zdeb reached a plea deal with prosecutors in April 2018, pleading guilty to two counts of felony deceptive practices and agreeing to testify against Craft at his homicide trial.

    The state’s first witness, Craft’s grandmother Celina “Tina” Russell, was questioned about a letter received in May by Cascade County District Judge Elizabeth Best, who is presiding over the case.

    The letter claimed that Zdeb was responsible for shooting Petzack and had confessed to multiple people. Investigators traced the letter to Russell, who said on the stand that she had no idea Craft’s cousin Madison Tri had used her paper to pen the letter.

    Tri testified that a phone call from Craft while she was at Russell’s home with another family member sparked a conversation about the murder, and they all decided to write the letter.

    “It was a discussion between all three of us, and we decided it was best,” said Tri.

    Russell also received letters from Craft containing the account he gave police of finding Petzack masturbating on the couch, then seeing his daughter unclothed in her room and shooting Petzack.

    “I shot him, and I panicked. I didn’t know what to do,” he wrote. “I was scared, and I still am scared about what’s going to happen, so I hid it.”

    Craft also writes of Zdeb, saying, “She needs to know what happened before she talks to her lawyer. Our stories have to match…To help my case, Grace (Katelyn) needs to know she was not there.”

    In a subsequent letter, Craft instructs his grandmother, “Throw away the letter I sent you to say she was there” and says Zdeb actually hated Petzack.

    Tri, who wrote the letter to the court accusing Zdeb, told the jury that her information was secondhand but claimed Timothy Crocker told her several different stories where Zdeb was involved in the murder.

    Patti Sayers, one of the individuals Tri identified as having knowledge of Zdeb’s guilt, said Zdeb never talked to her about the murder and did not confess to shooting Petzack.

    Likewise, Amanda Crocker denied ever hearing a confession from Zdeb.

    It was Timothy Crocker, who dated Zdeb and was engaged to her at one point, who testified that Zdeb told him several different stories in which she was directly involved in the homicide.

    In one, she said she came home and found blood in her bedroom.

    In another scenario, she was in the living room with kids when she heard a gunshot and then ran into her bedroom.

    “She got worked up and wouldn’t say anything else at that point,” Crocker said.

    Finally, in the last few days of their relationship, Crocker said she told him she was in the bedroom trying to seduce Petzack when Craft jumped out of a closet and shot him.

    “Her story kept evolving. Kept changing,” Crocker said at one point, adding that no matter what the story, it was always Craft who did the shooting and he never told anyone that Zdeb was responsible.

    “She essentially orchestrated it,” he said. “She wanted him out of that house.”

    Zdeb had told Craft, "She wanted (Petzack) gone and didn’t care how," according to Crocker.

    On cross-examination, defense attorney Larry LaFountain suggested that Zdeb’s final version of events could explain why Petzack’s boxer shorts were around his ankles when he was found.

    Friday’s lengthiest witness was Great Falls Police Department Detective Keith Perkins, who investigated Petzack’s disappearance and homicide.

    In the early part of the investigation, Perkins said he’d identified Craft as a possible suspect and tried to talk to him at his Gore Hill residence on June 29, 2016.

    When Craft answered the door, “He presented as if he was maybe startled,” Perkins said.

    Craft claimed he was about to leave on a business trip and couldn’t talk and wasn’t sure of his wife’s current schedule. He gave Perkins Zdeb’s phone number, but neither of them ever got back to the detective.

    Perkins’ next contact with Craft was Aug. 19 of that year when he interviewed him in Washington, where the Crafts had since moved.

    Cascade County Attorney Josh Racki played for the jury Craft’s interview in its entirety.

    After some background on their relationship, Craft claimed the last time he saw Petzack was Feb. 5, 2016, and that the police would likely find him in Wyoming, Georgia or New York.

    When asked if Petzack paid him rent, Craft said Petzack didn’t work, "he sat at the house and then he ran around Choteau," but he did think Petzack got some kind of money from the military, telling detectives, “I don’t know how it works.”

    When the detective confronted Craft about the Square account and the payments from Petzack’s debit card to the Crafts’ joint account, Craft’s story evolved.

    He said he loaned Petzack $5,000, and they set up the Square account so he could pay Craft back using his debit card. Craft claimed Adam swiped the card every month and maintained he hadn’t seen him since Feb. 5.

    The detective then confronted Craft with his knowledge that Petzack’s debit card was used to pay for Craft’s Billings hotel room.

    According to Craft, Petzack happened to be passing through Billings while the Crafts were there and paid for the room as part of repaying the money he owed Craft.

    Craft also claimed not to know where Petzack’s truck was.

    “As far as I know, he still has it,” he said.

    After detectives placed Craft under arrest on a Great Falls warrant for the financial crimes, Craft broke down crying.

    “I asked him to watch my kids. I never thought he was a (expletive) sicko,” Craft said before telling detectives the story of finding Petzack masturbating on the living room couch and then seeing his daughter was naked and uncovered in another room.

    “I snapped,” he said. “Adam went out the front door. I went to the back bedroom. I had my .22 rifle sitting by the back door. I opened up the back door and he was almost to his room, and I shot him. I panicked, and I didn’t know what to do.”

    “How can we get Adam back to his mom?” detectives asked.

    After some hesitation, Craft replied, “I buried him…in the barn, stall number two.”

    Craft then drew police a map to Petzack’s body and at first told them he dumped Petzack’s truck on the way to Billings before admitting he sold it to someone in Deer Lodge.

    He also said he’d dropped off Petzack’s service dog, Buddy, somewhere on the way to Valier. The dog was never found.

    The trial will continue Monday morning, when the prosecution is expected to rest its case. The defense will have a chance to call witnesses, and the jury will begin deliberation after closing arguments are heard.


  5. #5
    Senior Member CnCP Addict Steven's Avatar
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    State rests, defense grills Craft's ex-wife as Petzack homicide trial continues

    By Traci Rosenbaum
    Great Falls Tribune

    Testimony for the homicide trial of Brandon Lee Craft continued into Monday afternoon as the jury was given a timeline of events and the defense had its first opportunity to call witnesses.

    Craft stands accused of fatally shooting Adam Petzack in 2016, burying him beneath a barn stall and stealing his military benefits after his death.

    Keith Perkins, a detective with the Great Falls Police Department, remained on the stand as testimony began Monday afternoon, detailing for the jury the most significant events during the course of the department’s three-year investigation into Petzack’s murder.

    Perkins said there were three searches of the Gore Hill property where Petzack was found. The first, a walk-through with the property’s owner, happened in July after the Crafts had moved out.

    “We even walked through the barn at that time,” Perkins recalled, adding that the walk-through produced nothing out of the ordinary.

    Investigators didn’t return to the property again until mid-August 2016 after Craft told police where to find Petzack’s body.

    At that time, law enforcement did a grid search and examined the interior of the residence in addition to exhuming the body.

    Finally, on Sept. 19, 2016, investigators returned to search for blood evidence, taking carpet samples to be sent to the crime lab for analysis.

    None of the evidence sent turned up the presence of human blood, and no evidence of a shooting was found inside any of the property’s buildings.

    Perkins said a colleague told him the house had been cleaned in preparation for a renter prior to the third search.

    Assistant Cascade County Attorney Kory Larsen established with Perkins that from January to June 2016, Craft was calling or texting Petzack almost daily.

    After Feb. 11, however, Craft never again attempted to contact Petzack.

    On cross-examination, defense attorney Larry LaFountain asked Perkins a number of questions about the police interview, the weapons police found, the letters Craft wrote from jail that were recovered by law enforcement and the search of the Gore Hill property.

    LaFountain pointed out that Craft had made statements during his interview that turned out to be inaccurate, and he questioned whether statements Craft made in his letters from jail inferred that he and his then-wife, Katelyn Zdeb (Craft), had talked beforehand about what to say if they police discovered Petzack had been killed.

    LaFountain also probed law enforcement’s investigation, asking if any chemical analysis was done on the outside of the outbuilding where Petzack lived.

    Perkins replied that there was an area that was reactive to their chemical reagent but it could not be determined if the reactive substance was blood.

    At this point in the trial, LaFountain turned his full attention to Katelyn Zdeb, interrogating Perkins about Zdeb’s interviews with law enforcement.

    The grilling continued as the prosecution rested and LaFountain called Zdeb as his first defense witness. Page by page, LaFountain painstakingly combed Zdeb’s early interviews, asking her about every inconsistency.

    During her March 10, 2017 interview, LaFountain asked Zdeb if she thought it was fair to say some of her answers were colored with “the consciousness of guilt,” to which she replied that inaccurate timelines were the cause of any discrepancies in her answers.

    To most of LaFountain’s questions, Zdeb answered, “I don’t recall” or “I don’t believe I said that.”

    She did admit that she misled detectives on whether or not Adam was living in the Gore Hill residence but reiterated that she and Craft had never talked about what to do or say if police found out Adam had been killed.

    Moving backward in time to Zdeb’s Aug. 2016 interview, LaFountain opened by saying, “You asked (police) how soon you could get a deal, is that correct?”

    Zdeb had just been placed under arrest and claimed she was referring to bail and not to a plea deal.

    LaFountain had many questions on Zdeb’s answers to police about the guns in her household, specifically a Ruger .22 revolver that was discovered hidden among the Crafts’ belongings in Washington.

    Zdeb denied knowing anything about the gun.

    Without saying where he got the information, LaFountain asked Zdeb if she had told someone that “they didn’t bury Adam’s shoes because they wouldn’t decompose.”

    "I never said that," Zdeb answered.

    At one point in the interview, LaFountain said police accused Zdeb of knowing Petzack was buried on the property and said Zdeb gave answers that suggested she was aware of the burial.

    “You say that you have a real strong feeling, correct?” LaFountain asked. “You say, ‘I don’t know. Somewhere. I would assume somewhere secluded.'”

    According to LaFountain, Zdeb told investigators her best guess where someone would be buried on the property was out in the area of the barn.

    “I don’t remember saying that…I believe that you’re taking the statements out of context,” was Zdeb’s reply.

    The defense’s questioning was cut short at the end of the day, but he told Cascade County District Judge Elizabeth Best that he hopes to finish with Zdeb Tuesday and recall Detective Perkins to the stand before resting his case.

    Once closing statements have been made, the jury will enter deliberations.

    If he is found guilty, Craft faces up to life in prison on the deliberate homicide charge.


  6. #6
    Senior Member CnCP Addict Steven's Avatar
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    Craft found guilty of killing Adam Petzack

    The jury returned the guilty verdicts at about 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday

    By Kaitlin Boysel

    GREAT FALLS — Brandon Craft, charged with killing Adam Petzack in 2016, has been found guilty of deliberate homicide.

    After a trial that lasted several days, the jury returned the guilty verdicts at about 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

    In addition to being found guilty of deliberate homicide, Craft was also found guilty of tampering with evidence and deceptive practices.

    He is scheduled to be sentenced in six weeks.

    Petzack rented a small out-building from Craft on Gore Hill. Craft told investigators that he killed Petzack after he saw him performing an inappropriate sex act near Craft’s young daughter, but detectives testified that there was no evidence of that. Prosecutors say after Craft murdered Petzack, he hid his body and started a bank account to steal Petzack's military veteran's benefits. Craft and his now-former wife Katelyn were later arrested in Washington.

    The couple later divorced and Katelyn subsequently pleaded guilty to two felony counts of deceptive practices. The trial was postponed several times for various reasons, including Brandon’s attorney being removed due to a conflict of interest, and an anonymous letter being dropped off at the courthouse alleging that Katelyn had more to do with Petzack's murder.

    In April 2018, Katelyn entered a plea of guilty to two felony counts of deceptive practices.

    Court documents obtained shortly after Craft was arrested provided the following information:

    Petzack was a military veteran and rated at 100% disabled due to traumatic brain injury and PTSD. Petzack was receiving his VA benefits via direct deposit to his bank. During the investigation into his disappearance, officers discovered that Petzack’s bank account exhibited a “regular pattern of usage” until February 9, 2016. After that date, the regular spending on the account stopped; the only activity for the next several week were his regularly-scheduled direct deposits from the VA.

    On March 1, April 4, and May 2, the account was debited three times – each time for $1,400 – from “SQ CRAFT HOME GOSQ CO.” The SQ designation means that the charges were made using the Square credit-card processing service. There was only one other debit to the account – a charge of $124,40 to the Best Western Kelly Inn in Billings. An officer investigating the case learned that Brandon had used to card to charge a room at the Kelly Inn on April 10, 2016.

    On April 3rd, there had been an attempt to withdraw money from Petzack’s account at an ATM at 1st Liberty Federal Credit Union in Great Falls; the transaction was denied because the correct PIN was not provided.

    On June 21st, officers learned that the Square credit-card processing account had been opened by Katelyn Craft on February 17th, 2016. The Square account is linked to the account of Brandon Craft at 1st Liberty Credit Union. Several attempted transactions, ranging from $200 to $400, were recorded on May 16th.

    In late June, officers contacted Brandon at a home on 66th Avenue SW, and asked if he would come to the Great Falls Police Department for an interview. According to court documents, officers noted that Brandon’s voice was “quivering,” as if he was nervous, when he was told that they wanted to talk to him about Petzack.

    Brandon told the officers that he had not seen or talked to Petzack since late January or early February. He indicated that Petzack had lived with him in Choteau, but then had moved back to Great Falls. Brandon later lost his job and moved back to Great Falls. He said that Petzack’s home had flooded, so Brandon invited Petzack to stay with him, as he was just moving into his current residence. He told officers that Petzack declined the offer, and told Brandon that he was moving to Wyoming.

    On June 30, officers obtained Petzack’s phone records from Verizon Wireless. They learned that the last phone calls between Petzack and Brandon were on February 11th.

    On July 13th, a family member of Brandon confirmed to officers that Petzack had lived with Brandon in Choteau, but said that when Brandon was moving back to Great Falls, Petzack “packed his truck and disappeared.” The family member said that she did not believe Petzack ever stayed with Brandon once Brandon moved back to Great Falls.

    On July 22nd, an officer went to the home at 5029 66th Avenue SW, and saw that the property appeared to be vacant. The officer contacted the homeowner, who said that he had “evicted” Brandon and Katelyn because they were two months behind on paying their rent. The homeowner told the officer that the Crafts had moved out and abandoned the home on Friday, July 15th.
    Last edited by Steven; 11-20-2019 at 12:21 PM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member CnCP Addict Steven's Avatar
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    Oct 2018
    Huntsville, Texas
    Craft and ex-wife receive max sentences in Petzack murder case

    By Traci Rosenbaum
    Great Falls Tribune

    Former husband and wife Brandon Craft and Katelyn Zdeb were sentenced Friday morning in Cascade County District Court, marking the end of a homicide and theft case that began with the 2016 murder of 28-year-old Adam Petzack.

    Judge Elizabeth Best sentenced 25-year-old Craft to a total of 110 years in the Montana State Prison with no time suspended, and he will not be parole-eligible for 50 of those years.

    Craft received 10 years in prison for each of his three other charges with all but one sentence to run concurrently, and he received credit for 1,292 days of time served.

    Zdeb, 24, took a plea deal in April 2018, pleading guilty to two counts of felony deceptive practices and agreeing to testify against Craft.

    She received two consecutive 10-year sentences to the Montana Women's Prison with no time suspended.

    Aside from the homicide, Best's sentence for Craft and Zdeb represented the maximum possible for their crimes.

    Adam Petzack was first reported missing in February 2016.

    A disabled American veteran, Petzack served as a wheeled vehicle mechanic in the Army from April 2006 to September 2009 and deployed to Iraq from October 2007 to January 2009.

    He left the Army as a private first class and received the Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Army Service Ribbon and the Overseas Service Ribbon, according to Army records.

    During the investigation into his disappearance, detectives found that Craft and Zdeb had sold Petzack's truck, set up a Square account using his debit card and siphoned more than $3,500 of his VA benefits over a three-month period.

    When Craft was questioned by investigators, he eventually admitted to killing Petzack, claiming he'd found Petzack masturbating near where his daughter was sleeping and "lost it," shooting Petzack in the head and burying him under a barn on the property.

    After a long and often bumpy ride through the court system, Craft's case went to trial Nov. 12, 2019. A jury found him guilty on all counts.

    At his trial, Craft took the stand and claimed Zdeb was the one who committed the murder. Another witness testified that Zdeb had told him several stories that indicated she was involved in Petzack's death.

    According to Zdeb's testimony, Craft had told her to sell Petzack's truck and set up the Square account. She said she did not know Petzack was dead until the police questioned her about his disappearance.

    Adam Petzack's mother, Lori Petzack, took the stand at Friday's hearing.

    “I’d like to tell you who Adam is,” Lori Petzack began.

    “Adam is a very simple man. Adam will never again fall in love. Adam will never marry, have children or make me a grandma,” she continued. “Adam’s hopes and dreams will never be…made a reality.”

    Petzack talked of how the murder had left her with PTSD, nightmares, anxiety, depression and insomnia. She lamented that Craft had disposed of Adam’s belongings when covering up the crime and how some of what was left will stay in police evidence, perhaps indefinitely.

    “Everything Adam had owned was destroyed and taken from me,” she said. “All that remains are pictures, an Army sweatshirt, duplicate medals that Adam earned from his military service, letters…his dog tag and Adam’s burial flag for full military honors.”

    Petzack broke down multiple times when talking about her son, asking Judge Best, “Two funerals, two eulogies and now sentencing statements—how much more can a parent of a murdered child bear?”

    Best had to call for decorum several times as Petzack barraged the defendants with insults and harsh words. At one point, the judge deterred Petzack altogether as she began to direct her statements toward the defendants’ families who were sitting in the gallery, more than one of whom left in tears.

    “You are barbarians, both of you,” she said to Craft and Zdeb. “My son fought for your freedom and independence for four years in the U.S. Army. He received a frontal lobe traumatic brain injury in Mosul, Iraq from an IED which fully disabled him for the rest of his life, which you both took away.”

    Craft and Zdeb sat through Petzack’s testimony without noticeable reaction as she requested a life sentence for Craft, calling him a “monster, flight risk, thief, liar.”

    “After this, I never want to see either of their faces again,” she finished.

    No other witnesses were called during the proceedings.

    Zdeb's attorney, Travis Cushman, argued for probationary sentences for his client, stating that she had no prior criminal record, she cooperated with the authorities during Craft's trial, has three minor children to support and hadn't been in any trouble in the four years since Petzack's murder.

    "I first want to start off by apologizing to Adam and his family for all of the heartache that you guys have endured over this,” said Zdeb in her statement to the court. “Adam was a great man and awesome to me and my children and I am very, very sorry that this has happened."

    In accordance with the plea agreement, the state made no recommendation for Zdeb's sentence.

    "I did not find a lot of your testimony to have been completely credible," Best said after pronouncing Zdeb's sentence. "I...believe that you had much greater involvement in this homicide than you have admitted.”

    Zdeb, who has been free on bail since her initial arrest, was handcuffed and taken from the courtroom.

    For Craft, the state recommended a life sentence without the possibility of parole, while Craft's attorney Larry LaFountain argued for 100 years with 40 suspended on the homicide charge and requested that the sentences on all the other charges run concurrently.

    LaFountain told Best, "There are many cases where a person is convicted where the person is not actually guilty” and reminded the judge of several overturned homicide convictions in Montana.

    Best stated that her sentence took into account the many factors, including Craft's age, education and family situation as well as the fact that Craft was likely using methamphetamine during the time period when the murder occurred and that Petzack was a friend, a military veteran and a person with disabilities that Craft took advantage of and murdered.

    In addition, Best said Craft's behavior record while incarcerated “concerns the court on many levels in terms of the ability to be rehabilitated and to abide by court conditions.”

    "The seriousness of this offense," Best concluded, "the disregard for this victim and willingness to hide the offense and then make the offense worse by using his property and money cannot be abided.”


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