DEER LODGE, Mont. (AP) — A handyman and probationer was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison for killing a man and his mother after being confronted over the theft of 1,700 ounces of silver.
David Wayne Nelson, 54, of Deer Lodge must serve at least 30 years in prison before being eligible for parole, District Judge Ray Dayton ruled. Nelson pleaded guilty to two counts of deliberate homicide last September for the deaths of Greg Giannonatti, 57, and Beverly Giannonatti, 79.
The Giannonattis were reported missing in late October 2015, beginning a monthlong mystery that shocked the small southwestern Montana town, home to the Montana State Prison.
The investigation ended when Nelson confessed to stealing the silver from Greg Giannonatti, selling it for $26,000 and killing the Giannonattis on Oct. 24 or 25 during a confrontation over the theft.
Investigators learned that a registered violent offender, Nelson, had done work at Beverly's rental properties and was making improvements at the home of Beverly's late ex-husband, Bill, at the time the Giannonattis disappeared.
Officers received a tip that Nelson had traveled to Missoula to sell the silver at Grizzly Gold and Silver. One bar still in the store had previously been sold to Greg Giannonatti, court records said.
Nelson, who was still on probation for a 1998 kidnapping and accountability to robbery in Ravalli County, was initially jailed for violating his probation for traveling out of the county without his probation officer's permission.
On Nov. 29, 2015, Nelson made a jailhouse confession, saying he killed Beverly and Greg in the bathroom of Bill Giannonatti's house. Nelson said he hit Greg in the head with a hammer and threw Beverly against a wall before strangling her with an electrical wire.
Nelson said he dumped their bodies and went back to the house to clean up.
Nelson led investigators to the bodies of Greg and Beverly Giannonatti, court records said.
"The money Nelson received from the sale of the silver was recovered from his residence, less $2,000 he used to repay his stepdaughter for his recent shoulder surgery and other amounts he said he'd used for living expenses," court records said.