GREAT FALLS — A Montana jury has convicted a man of killing a disabled veteran, burying his body in the dirt floor of a barn near Great Falls, selling his pickup truck and stealing his disability benefits for several months.
Brandon Lee Craft was found guilty of deliberate homicide, tampering with evidence and deceptive practices in the February 2016 death of Adam Petzack, who was shot in the back of the head.
Petzack's mother said she was relieved with Tuesday's verdict, which followed a five-day trial.
"I took a deep breath," Lori Petzack told the Great Falls Tribune. "I got my closure. I can now finally mourn and grieve my child and then celebrate his life and try and build a life for myself now that the majority of hell is done and over and gone."
Prosecutors presented evidence that Craft confessed in August 2016 to shooting Adam Petzack seven months earlier and drew a map to guide investigators to his body.
Authorities say Craft wrote letters to his grandmother and his father-in-law acknowledging he killed the 28-year-old Petzack. The letters said Craft's wife had nothing to do with it, prosecutors said.
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However, Craft testified that his now ex-wife, Katelyn Zdeb, was responsible for Petzack's death. The couple divorced in 2017.
During closing statements, Assistant Cascade County Attorney Kory Larsen said Craft's claim that Zdeb killed Petzack didn't make sense.
Zdeb earlier pleaded guilty to stealing Petzack's money and his pickup truck and agreed to testify against Craft as part of her plea agreement.
Petzack was receiving disability payments because of a traumatic brain injury he suffered in Iraq and post-traumatic stress disorder, court records said.
Lori Petzack, who is from New York, said she will return to Montana for Craft's sentencing. A sentencing date has not been set.
"There is no forgiveness ever from me, Adam's sister, Adam's brother, Adam's entire New York and Montana families. Ever," she said. "This is unforgivable."