• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 44s

Defense makes its case in Coast Guard murder trial

By MJ Thim 3:59 PM April 17, 2014

Testimony centered on Wells’ medical history and a blue blur

ANCHORAGE –

Gallbladder surgery and a vehicle from surveillance video were the main focus of James Wells’ defense team Thursday morning in his double murder trial.

Wells is accused of murdering of 41-year-old James Hopkins and 51-year-old Richard Belisle at the Kodiak Island Coast Guard base two years ago. All three men worked together at the rigger shop on base.

The defenses’ first witness was Wells’ physician, Dr. Song-Qing Gan, who testified about his medical history. She said that he suffered from gallbladder problems and had it removed in January 2012.

The defense tried to establish Wells had a pattern of chronic digestive issues due to his gallbladder and that frequent trips to the restroom contributed to his whereabouts during the times of the murders. During cross-examination, the prosecution reviewed Gan’s medical notes on Wells in which she reported he had no digestive complaints after surgery.

The remainder of the trial zeroed in on a blurry blue image from video surveillance at the Coast Guard base. Prosecutors said it was a blue Honda CRV that belonged to Wells’ wife Nancy and that he drove it to the base the morning of the murders.

Michael Ditallo, a crash reconstruction consultant for the defense, told the jury the blue blur could be a Honda CRV but also testified it could be Toyota RAV 4, Ford Escape, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chevy S-10 Blazer, Nissan Pathfinder, Isuzu Rodeo or a Hyundai Santa Fe. Ditallo said he took two images from the video and created a computer model and overlaid each of those models onto the blue blur to prove it could have been any of those vehicle models.

The defenses’ last witness for the day was Deatrich Sheffield, a federal public defender in criminal investigations. She testified about her report she did on vehicles matching Nancy Wells’ blue Honda CRV on Kodiak Island. She said she saw 75 similar vehicles when she visited the Coast Guard base.

Investigators found no murder weapon and no witnesses to the murders. The defense said there is no evidence linking Wells to the crime.

The trial resumes Friday morning.

Latest Stories

  • News

    ANSEP aims to excite students about STEM

    by Makayla Clark on Jun 23, 18:31

    Anchorage students put their designs to the test Friday. They hooked a suspended box onto bridges they designed and built out of balsa wood and glue. They then put metal balls into the boxes until the bridges snapped. “This is a very good opportunity to learn,” Jason Kyle, a student at the academy, said. “I […]

  • Man accused in 7-car hit-and-run charged with DWI

    by KTVA Web Staff on Jun 23, 17:20

    One man has a laundry list of charges after a hit-and-run on June 9 near the inbound intersection of the Glenn Highway and Airport Heights Drive. Jake Sundog Rotzler-Martus, 31, is charged with first- and third-degree assault, DWI, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident, according to charging documents. On June 9, a […]

  • Politics

    Alaska lawmakers headed home, but session isn’t over yet

    by Liz Raines on Jun 23, 16:50

    Many lawmakers are headed home after passing a budget late Thursday night to prevent a government shutdown next week. But the final gavel hasn’t fallen yet. If lawmakers felt a sense of accomplishment after finally passing a budget, the satisfaction was short-lived. Less than two hours later, Gov. Bill Walker added a new issue to […]

  • News

    Budget cuts threaten rollout of earthquake early warning system

    by CBS News on Jun 23, 16:32

    In an earthquake, having the latest information could be key to survival. At the “quake cottage” in Burbank, California, scientists are working to warn people before earthquakes hit. The facility is home to a state-of-the-art quake simulator where you know exactly when the shaking is going to start. But what if you could get a […]

  • News

    F-16 Thunderbird crashes, flips over at Dayton International Airport

    by CBS News on Jun 23, 16:29

    DAYTON, Ohio — A military plane that was practicing for an air show in heavy fog has crashed at an airport in Ohio, officials said Friday. CBS affiliate WHIO-TV reports an F-16 Thunderbird crashed and overturned shortly before 1 p.m. at the end of a runway at Dayton International Airport. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds […]

  • News

    Was Russian hacking of Ukraine’s power grid a test run for U.S. attack?

    by CBS News on Jun 23, 16:27

    In its July cover story, Wired magazine takes an in-depth look at a years-long string of cyberattacks in Ukraine that could have global implications. It has undermined every sector including the media, military, politics and even people’s homes. Andy Greenberg, who reported the story, and Wired editor-in-chief Nicholas Thompson joined “CBS This Morning” to discuss […]

  • News

    White St. Louis police officer shoots off-duty black officer

    by CBS News on Jun 23, 16:24

    A black off-duty St. Louis police officer was shot by a white on-duty police officer from the same department who apparently mistook him for a fleeing suspect, according to a statement from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. At about 10 p.m. Wednesday evening, St. Louis police received a report that a stolen vehicle had […]

  • News

    Teen’s molester moves in next door upon prison release

    by CBS News on Jun 23, 16:19

    CREEK COUNTY, Oklahoma – An Oklahoma family wants to change the state law that allowed the man who molested their daughter years ago to move in next door after getting out of prison, reports CBS affiliate KWTV. “I don’t like feel like I can come home,” says Danyelle Dyer, who is now speaking out about […]