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LIBBY — A Libby woman who allegedly mumbled the words “I shot him” moments before being interviewed by police has been charged in the shooting death of her husband.

Connie Jean Leckrone, 62, faces charges of deliberate homicide and evidence tampering in the Dec. 17 death of 69-year-old Dean Leckrone. Her bail was set at $500,000 and an arraignment scheduled for Jan. 3.

According to the charging affidavit:

Connie Leckrone called 911 shortly after 8 p.m. and reported that her husband had accidentally shot himself at the couple’s home in Libby.

When Lincoln County sheriff’s officers arrived, they found Dean Leckrone lying on his back in the bedroom closet with a wound above his eyebrows.

The officers noted there was no gun near the body.

When asked, Connie Leckrone told an officer she had moved the .44 Magnum revolver to the dresser drawer where it was normally kept after she found her husband dead. After the officer retrieved the pistol, Leckrone asked him how many bullets were in the gun. Before he could answer, she told him there was one bullet in the gun.

In checking the cylinder, the officer noted there was one spent casing in the pistol.

The officer noted that blood had already coagulated and that Dean Leckrone’s hands were cool to the touch.

Leckrone initially told officers she had been upstairs watching TV and heard a thump. When she came downstairs, she said, she found her husband in the closet. She said she put the gun back in the drawer and called 911.

Leckrone agreed to be interviewed at the sheriff’s office interview room, which was equipped with a video recorder.

During that interview, two detectives noted that Leckrone’s account of the events surrounding her husband’s death was inconsistent.

She told the detectives the couple had gone to their cabin on Leckrone Creek earlier in the day, but had turned around due to mud on the road. When a detective noted that cold weather would have frozen any mud on the road, she changed her story and said they turned around because they didn’t have a key to the gate. Later, she said they actually turned around because her husband decided he didn’t want to go to the cabin.

When the detective asked Leckrone to clarify which one was correct, she refused to answer.

Leckrone also gave inconsistent accounts on what prompted her to check on her husband.

At first, Leckrone said she went downstairs after hearing a thud. Later, she said she went downstairs after hearing a gunshot. And then she said she heard both a gunshot and a thud. Later, she said she said she heard gunshots.

After telling the detectives she was watching the show “Supernatural,” Leckrone said that a spirit lived in her home. Its name was John. She said John had been killed in the house by his father when he was 2. She told the detectives her husband had met John, but the spirit had left the home after about two weeks.

When asked about her decision to move the pistol, Leckrone said she had found it lying on top of her husband and had moved it because it was heavy. She then said she found the gun his hand and then changed her story again to say it was lying on his forearm.

Leckrone consistently denied that she had shot her husband.

She asked several times when her husband’s body would be removed so she could go home. She repeatedly told the officers she wanted to go home, but could not return until after the body had been moved.

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After the interview concluded, the detectives stepped out of the room to watch Leckrone on the video recorder. She mumbled some things that couldn’t be understood at the time.

The detectives then returned to the room and asked for consent to swab her hands to check for gunshot residue. Leckrone agreed.

After the detectives left the room, they watched Leckrone lick her hands several times and wipe them on her jeans. She also poured some bottled water on her hands.

She again began to mumble. A detective heard her say “gunshot residue.” At another point, she mumbled, “Tell the truth? No.”

When the detectives asked Leckrone about her actions, she initially denied licking her hands and pouring water on them. After she was told her actions had been videoed, she said she'd poured water on her hands, but added that didn’t have anything to do with gunshot residue.

She continued to deny that she had licked her hands.

Leckrone was arrested at that point for tampering with evidence. The deliberate homicide charge was added later.

Three days later, a detective was reviewing the video recording of Leckrone’s interview. About 14 seconds after the video recorder was turned on — while Leckrone was still alone — she could be heard quietly mumbling “I shot him.”

Leckrone remains in custody.

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Northwest Montana Reporter

Northwest Montana reporter at the Missoulian