“We’ll miss you and wish the best for you.” Those were the final words Noe Christopher said to his son moments before Logan Christopher was sentenced Wednesday to three life terms plus 20 years in the execution-style deaths of his mother and the mother of his two children.
The 25-year-old Stevensville man won’t be eligible for parole until he turns 60. The life terms will run concurrently.
Logan Christopher pleaded guilty in May to the March 10 shooting deaths of 25-year-old Marisa Wahl and his 47-year-old mother, Tiffanie Greenslade. He shot his father in the arm before fleeing the Stevensville home. Christopher was captured in Missoula after leading law enforcement officers on a chase that reached speeds of 130 mph.
On Wednesday, a mostly stoic Christopher listened as his father, grandmother and Marisa Wahl’s mother offered victim impact statements to the court.
His grandmother, Arlene Greenslade, was the first to take the stand.
“Logan, the first thing I want to say to you and the court is that you have been loved from the time you were born,” Greenslade said. “You loved Marisa and you loved your mom. Due to your drugs, you took their lives.”
Greenslade said Christopher’s drug use changed him.
“A different person came out of you that no one saw,” she said. “If you asked for help, we would have given it to you. I’ve been told that until a drug-addicted person asks, there’s no help for them. It breaks my heart to see you here.
“It has been the most horrific thing that has ever happened to our family, to Marisa’s family, to all her friends,” Greenslade said. “You have two children you’ll never know and that is horrific. The only one who can forgive you for what you did is God. We love you. I wish this had never happened to our families.
"I also feel that the person who did this was not Logan," she said. "It was the drugs. With that, I feel the system we have in this world, with drugs and no control of them, has a lot to blame.”
Marisa’s mother, Stephanie Wahl, said her life was taken from her on March 10.
“I am here physically, but my soul is gone and heart is too broken to fix,” Wahl said. “I think of Marisa every minute of every day. There is nothing I do or anywhere I go where I’m not reminded of the amazing 26 years we had shared together.”
Wahl said Marisa died on her other daughter’s 15th birthday. Earlier the day of the shootings, Wahl and Marisa delivered flowers to her other daughter at school.
“They were ones that Marisa picked out,” Wahl said. “They were beautiful. … Now instead of celebrating her birthday every year, she will now have to mourn her sister. She will be deprived of that day for the rest of her life.”
Wahl said her grief has made it impossible for her to work. It’s difficult for her to even leave her home.
“I’m not the person I was anymore and never will be,” Wahl said. “I can’t possibly imagine how to be happy anymore. … Our lives have completely changed. My children have seen a side of their mother that no child should see. When I pray at night, I pray not to wake up so I can be with Marisa.”
Noe Christopher told his son has life has changed, too, as he raises his grandchildren with the help of the community, family and friends.
“You left me with them,” he said. “A real tough job to have those two little kids, but I'm thankful that I have them. They keep me going. They do.
“They ask about you and Marisa and I’m not quite sure what to say to them,” Noe Christopher said. “I let them know they are loved. It’s probably one of the toughest things that anyone could ever go through, but with the help of the community, friends and family, we’ll get through it.
“We sure miss your mom,” he said.
After the hearing, Ravalli County Attorney Bill Fulbright said in an interview that Logan Christopher told investigators that he had a blackout and had panicked. Fulbright said he “never bought into that idea.”
Fulbright said Christopher made too many conscious choices, including running away when his father faced him with a shotgun and surrendering when he was surrounded by armed law enforcement officers.
“He had an awareness and presence of mind when it came to his own safety,” Fulbright said. “I don’t think we’ll ever know what tripped him over the edge, whether it was a combination of anger, drug use or domestic stress. Whatever the trigger was, once he started with the killing of the mother of his children, nothing was going to stop him until his own life was put in danger.”
Fulbright said his office believed the life sentences “were justified by the callous nature in which he took their lives and his attempt to take his dad’s life, too.”
District Judge Howard Recht followed the terms of a plea agreement that set life sentences for the two counts of deliberate homicide and one count of attempted deliberate homicide.
In addition, Recht sentenced Christopher to two additional 10-year terms for charges of criminal endangerment and criminal possession of drugs with intent to distribute. Those 20 years will run consecutive to the life sentence.
All of the money seized following Christopher’s arrest, along with personal items, was placed in educational accounts for his two children.
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