• 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

  • Crime

    1 injured in downtown Anchorage shooting near PlayHouse bar

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Dec 21, 13:49

    One person was injured in a shooting in downtown Anchorage early Sunday morning. At about 2:15 a.m., officers were called to a shooting in the area of 420 W. Third Ave., according to a statement from the Anchorage Police Department. The incident occurred near the PlayHouse bar, “which is formerly the old Millennium Club,” according to APD […]

  • News

    2 vehicles sink on Chena River ice stretch

    by Associated Press on Dec 21, 13:06

    At least two vehicles recently sank into the Chena River on a section long used as an ice-covered shortcut between Airport Way and Chena Small Tracts Road. Bob Weaver, the owner of Ron’s Towing, said a rented SUV driven by an out-of-state motorist sank Dec. 15 after making a left turn onto the river from […]

  • Sports

    Iditarod Trail Committee names Philip Esai 2015 Honorary Musher

    by KTVA Sports on Dec 21, 12:41

    The Iditarod Trail Committee has bestowed an honor on one of its most dedicated volunteers. Philip Esai, who passed away earlier this year, has been named the 2015 Honorary Musher. Each year, the committee honors one or more people who have made a significant contribution to the sport of sled dog racing. Esai and his […]

  • Crime

    2 arrested in connection with $30K stolen from Alaska fish hatchery

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Dec 20, 18:39

    Two Palmer men are in custody in connection with a burglary that occurred at an Alaskan fish hatchery last month. On Nov. 8, Alaska State Troopers were notified that $30,000 worth of steel, aluminum and copper had been stolen from the Eklutna Tailrace fish hatchery. The suspects also caused approximately $30,000 worth of damage by “cutting through walls […]

  • News

    Last call to get Christmas gifts in the mail

    by Shannon Ballard on Dec 20, 17:07

    The Saturday before Christmas is one of the busiest mailing days of the year — and for good reason. If gifters want to make sure their cards, presents and parcels arrive by Dec. 25, the deadline to send mail first-class or priority is today. “With our transportation network that we have, a lot of our priority […]

  • News

    Anchorage libraries get new self-checkout machines

    by Sierra Starks, Shannon Ballard on Dec 20, 16:24

    Anchorage Public Library is unveiling a new addition to its branch locations. Libraries around Anchorage debuted new self-service checkout machines last week. Z. J. Loussac Public Library launched their new machines Friday. On Saturday, library-goers could be seen testing out the touchscreen feature, returning books and DVDs and checking their account balances. Stacia McGourty, a reference and […]

  • News

    Man fatally struck, trapped under vehicle near downtown Anchorage

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Dec 20, 14:58

    A man is dead after a pedestrian-involved crash near downtown Anchorage that occurred early Saturday morning. At around 2:30 a.m., police and medics responded to the collision near the 1400 block of 12th Avenue. The 911 caller stated that a man delivering newspapers had struck a pedestrian, according to a statement from the Anchorage Police Department. […]

  • News

    Coast Guard rescues stranded Alaska hunter

    by Associated Press on Dec 20, 12:08

    The U.S. Coast Guard has rescued a hunter who was stranded on Chicagof Island in Alaska after he was separated from his hunting party. Rescuers in Juneau were alerted that there was a hunter in distress on the nearby island. They launched a helicopter crew to find him in the dark of night. The hunter […]