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Missoula man charged in connection with fatal hit-and-run

Robert Nelson
Posted at 11:26 AM, Mar 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-06 13:33:36-05

MISSOULA — Robert Nelson has been charged in connection with Tuesday’s hit-and-run on West Broadway in Missoula that left a man dead.

The man who died was identified on Friday by the Missoula County Sheriff's Office as Johnny Lee Burns of Missoula; he was 63 years old.

Nelson, 34 years old, is being charged with two felonies: failure to remain at the scene of an accident where a person was killed or seriously injured, and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence. He is also facing a misdemeanor charge for failure to carry proof of liability insurance.

Court documents say that police responded to reports of a pedestrian who was hit by a vehicle at about 6:30 a.m. on March 3.

Police then began receiving reports of a car matching the description of the one seen hitting the man driving along West Broadway near the airport. According to court documents, callers reported a man “hanging out the window” while he was driving a white Pontiac with a caved-in windshield, severe damage to its hood, and a missing mirror.

Police found the vehicle parked by a Dumpster at Nelson's place of work and an employee identified the car as belonging to Nelson. Nelson came out of the business and said “I messed up,” using an expletive term. He then told police that he was driving the speed limit and was sober while westbound on West Broadway when he hit something.

Nelson reportedly told police that he was scared and panicked and that someone might have intentionally jumped out in front of his vehicle. He then parked at work near a large Dumpster and attempted to conceal the damage with a sleeping bag.

Nelson was released following his initial interview, but law enforcement issued a warrant once they found surveillance footage showing Nelson attempting to cover his vehicle.