NewsCrime & Courts


Missoula man sentenced to life in prison for murder of homeless man

Lee Roy Nelson was found dead on Nov. 20, 2020, in downtown Missoula parking lot
Charles Covey Mugshot
Posted at 3:57 PM, Oct 30, 2023

MISSOULA — A Missoula man was recently sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of a homeless man in November 2020.

Charles Covey was sentenced for the murder of Lee Roy Nelson in Missoula District Court on Friday, October 27, 2023.

Nelson was found dead on November 20, 2020, near the Riverfront Trail in downtown Missoula by a nurse during her lunchtime walk.

Surveillance video and witnesses observed Covey pushing Nelson, who used a wheelchair, in the same area of the homicide.

Witnesses report Nelson was yelling “stop” before he eventually came out of the wheelchair.

The witness observed the man crouched over and described hearing a hollow metallic sound.

Authorities say Nelson’s death was caused by blunt and sharp force trauma to his head.

Covey was captured on surveillance leaving the nearby area after Nelson was killed and then discarding his clothing behind a trash can. The murder weapon was never recovered.

“While nothing can bring Mr. Nelson back, today Mr. Nelson and the Missoula community received justice with this sentence,” said Deputy County Attorney Caitlin Creighton.

Covey was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole in the Montana State Prison for the homicide as well as 10 years for tampering with or fabricating physical evidence which will be served concurrently with the homicide charge.