Flathead man found guilty of pushing man off bridge to his death

Andrew Walthers

KALISPELL – A Flathead Valley man accused of pushing another man off a bridge earlier this year has been found guilty of deliberate homicide by a jury.

Cecil Thomas Rice was charged in the death of Anthony Walthers. Prosecutors say that Rice pushed Walthers off the Old Steele Bridge near Evergreen on April 26.

At the time, investigators said the water temperature in the river was 41 degrees and the current was moving extremely fast. Walthers’ body was found by boaters about a mile and a half offshore from the mouth of the Flathead River.

The jury heard closing arguments Tuesday before returning with a verdict around 4 p.m. after a quick trial that began on Monday.

“He testified the defendant was laughing and joking, saying ‘I told you so, I told you so’,” Flathead County Deputy Attorney Alison told the court on Thursday.

“This case is an accident nothing more and nothing less it’s tragic but this is an accident and Cecil Rice is not a villain,” countered defense attorney Steven Scott.

Rice’s punishment will be determined at his sentencing hearing, which has not yet been set.