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Convicted murderer Wood gets 100 years with no parole

by SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER
Daily Inter Lake | March 2, 2021 12:30 PM

Even at the end, convicted murderer Danielle Wood proclaimed her innocence.

But her proclamation mattered none to Sanders County District Court Judge Deborah “Kim” Christopher as she sentenced Wood to 100 years without the chance of parole to the Montana State Women’s Prison Tuesday morning in Thompson Falls.

Wood, 56, of Polson, was found guilty of deliberate homicide Jan. 29 in the shooting death of Thompson Falls resident Matt LaFriniere.

Wood was accused of shooting Matt LaFriniere three times with a .38 caliber revolver and then using a “burner” cellphone to try and lead investigators away from suspecting her.

LaFriniere and Wood had been in a years-long custody battle over a child they had together.

“As God and all of you as my witnesses, I speak the truth,” Wood said in a brief statement. “I did not kill Matt and I did not help anyone kill Matt. I hope the truth comes to light soon.”

Family members and friends of LaFriniere spoke of the effects of the crime and the divide in the family due to his murder.

“Matt is dead and [his daughter] has been put under agonizing stress for 13 months,” George LaFriniere, Matt’s father, said Tuesday. “We lost our son and a father. Matt should be here for all the fun we would’ve had.

“Danielle planned this all out,” he continued. “She’s a pathological manipulator and she put her own son and her boyfriend up as possible suspects.

“Please sentence her to life without parole,” LaFriniere said.

Chad Cantrell, a detective with the Sanders County Sheriff’s Office and friend of Matt LaFriniere, was emotional as he read a statement.

“Matt’s death is an immeasurable loss to his daughter and this community,” Cantrell said. “He was always a glass half full kind of person.

“His daughter is now deprived of her father and mother. Please sentence to her life without parole, please hold her accountable.”

Montana Department of Justice attorney Stephanie Robles, who argued the case with state Department of Justice attorney Dan Guzynski, argued for the maximum sentence.

“This wasn’t a crime of passion,” Robles said. “She bought a gun and a phone to trick Matt and the police. Her ultimate goal was to kill Matt. “She robbed her daughter of a lifetime of memories with her dad.

“She presents a threat to society because of failure to control her drinking,” Robles said.

Wood’s attorney, public defender Greg Rapkoch, argued for the minimum sentence of 10 years.

“Danielle still her maintains her innocence,” he said. “She’s a loving mother caught in difficult circumstances.”

Scott Shindledeckermay be reached at 406-758-4441 or sshindledecker@dailyinterlake.com.