• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 8s

Common sense or nonsense? Jury deliberates Wells’ fate

By MJ Thim 8:26 PM April 24, 2014
ANCHORAGE –

Did James Wells shoot and kill 41-year-old James Hopkins and 51-year-old Richard Belisle the morning of April 12, 2012?

It’s the question jurors have been asked to answer as they deliberate the fate of Wells.

Prosecutors argued it’s common sense Wells is the killer during closing arguments Thursday in federal court. They believe he committed the murders inside the rigger shop of the Coast Guard yard on Kodiak Island.

Wells’ lawyers called the entire case nonsense because there wasn’t any evidence found connecting him to the crime.

Prosecutors told the jury Wells held a grudge against Hopkins and Belisle. They said he was angry because the two men were trying to push him out of a job.

The defense argued he had no history of violence and is a quiet and peaceful man whose only concern was safety when it came to his job. They asked the jury to think of Wells not as a stranger but as a loved one, such as a father or brother.

The prosecution painted a picture of how they believe Wells committed the crimes. They said he planned everything beforehand. Highlighting their point, they said Wells waited for his wife Nancy to go out of town so he could use her blue Honda CRV to drive to the shop instead of using his white truck. Two frames of video surveillance at the base were used by the prosecution to show Wells coming and going the morning of the murders.

The frames were of a blue blur the defense said could have been anyone. They argued not one expert called into testify during the trial said the blue blur was Nancy’s Honda CRV. They took the issue one step further and said no one could prove the two frames were the same vehicle — calling the prosecution’s case a house of cards.

Another area of debate: Wells’ alibi when the bodies were found. He said he was late to work because he had a flat tire that was punctured by a nail. Prosecutors showed the jurors a big truck tire and how they believe the nail was put there intentionally, perhaps by a nail gun.

In the end, prosecutors told the jury to use their common sense while the defense said it’s all nonsense Wells is the suspect and that the real killer is still on the loose.

The courtroom was packed with people for the first time since jury selection. Almost half of the people were from the Coast Guard, a majority of whom were from the Kodiak base.

Jury deliberations start Friday.

Latest Stories

  • Lifestyle

    Film festival kicks off with premier of last movie shot under tax incentive program

    by Bonney Bowman on Dec 03, 17:39

    The Anchorage International Film Festival kicked off Friday night, with the premier of a movie shot right here in our home state. “Sugar Mountain” was the last film made under the tax incentive program, which the state ended due to budget issues. “Sugar Mountain” was shot in Seward, and featured the town and its people. […]

  • Politics

    Green Party drops bid for statewide Pennsylvania recount

    by Associated Press on Dec 03, 17:29

    The Green Party is dropping its court case seeking a statewide recount of Pennsylvania’s Nov. 8 presidential election. It had wanted to explore whether voting machines and systems had been hacked and the election result manipulated. The decision came Saturday, two days before a court hearing in the case. Lawyers for the Green Party-backed voters […]

  • News

    Scholar says China concerned about Trump policy following Taiwan call

    by Associated Press on Dec 03, 17:28

    China’s foreign minister says he hopes Beijing’s relations with the U.S. won’t be “interfered with or damaged” after President-elect Donald Trump broke with decades-long diplomatic tradition and spoke directly with Taiwan’s leader. Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV reports that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Saturday the call between Taiwan’s president and Trump was “just a […]

  • News

    Bergdahl seeks pardon from Obama to avert desertion trial

    by Associated Press on Dec 03, 17:22

    A former prisoner of war accused of endangering his U.S. comrades by walking off his post in Afghanistan is asking President Barack Obama to pardon him before leaving office. White House and Justice Department officials say U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl submitted the clemency request. If granted, it would allow Bergdahl to avert a court-martial […]

  • News

    Officials say up to 40 people may have perished in California warehouse fire

    by KTVA / AP on Dec 03, 15:41

    31st- pic.twitter.com/8TX6jk0iYq — Oakland Firefighters (@OaklandFireLive) December 3, 2016 OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say they fear up to 40 people might have died in a fire at an Oakland, California warehouse, which was hosting an electronic dance party. Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said Saturday that nine people were confirmed dead, and that he […]

  • News

    Bethel fire investigation reveals 2 bodies, police say

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Dec 03, 14:42

    Last updated at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3 Two Bethel residents were found dead inside their home after a fire early Saturday morning. Bethel police and fire personnel responded to the fire in the area of Trailer Court just after 1 a.m. and quickly extinguished it, according to a statement from Bethel Police Department […]

  • Weather

    Sitka airport closed after storm forced rocks, debris onto runway

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Dec 03, 14:13

    The Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport was closed for several hours Friday when a storm forced rocks and other debris onto the runway. High winds and heavy seas were blamed for the debris, which stretched across the runway for much of the day, according to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. “The airport is […]

  • Lifestyle

    A night at the Bethel Winter House

    by Adrian Wagner/KYUK on Dec 03, 13:47

    Bethel’s homeless shelter, Bethel Winter House, opened earlier this week, providing relief from the cold to Bethel’s many in need. A story published by KYUK Public Media showed what it was like for guests on Wednesday night. Around dinnertime, Major Lonnie Upshaw checked a large convection oven. “I’m serving lasagna, and chicken alfredo pasta with rolls tonight,” Upshaw said. […]