20 year-old Zakai Houck appeared in Missoula District Court on Thursday to face charges of witness tampering in addition to deliberate homicide and tampering with evidence in the death of then 19 year-old Jonathan Wallack.

Houck is in the Missoula County Jail charged with deliberate homicide after a drug related shooting in which the victim was shot in the head and then dumped on Ancabide Lane in Upper Miller Creek in May of 2020.

Deputy County Attorney Mark Handelman was the prosecutor at Houck’s court appearance on Thursday.

“Mr. Houck was charged with deliberate homicide stemming from the death of someone back on May 11th of 2020,” said Handelman. “He was charged to deliberate homicide as well as tampering with evidence. He was already arraigned on those charges and trial has already been set for this matter.”

Handelman said the additional charge against Houck came to light recently.

“On December 16, I was apprised of some potential witness tampering,” he said. “I reviewed that information and filed a count of witness tampering, and Mr. Houck was arraigned on that third count this past week, to which he pleaded not guilty as well.”

Handelman explained the possible penalties if Houck were to be found guilty on all charges.

“The total possible penalty is 130 years to life in prison,” he said. “The 100 to life of course, is associated with the deliberate homicide charge, and if he's found guilty of that he must serve at least 10 years, but not more than 100 years at Montana State Prison. With respect to the tampering with evidence as well as the tampering with a witness, those both carry 10 years in the Montana State Prison along with a possible $50,000 fine.”

Houck remains in the Missoula County Jail on $2 million bond. His trial has been set for June 4 in Missoula District Court. Handelman said due to the serious nature of the charges that Houck’s trial will be held in person.


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