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Wells convicted in Coast Guard murders

By MJ Thim 2:09 PM April 25, 2014
ANCHORAGE –

James Wells is going to prison for the murders of James Hopkins and Richard Belisle.

A jury convicted the 62-year-old on all six counts Friday in federal court.

“We all know he’s guilty, we always did,” said Nicola Belisle, widow of Richard Belisle. “It will never bring my husband back, which is what I wish.”

“I couldn’t sleep for almost two years, so I guess I now I can sleep,” said Deborah Hopkins, widow of James Hopkins.

The two men were found shot to death inside the rigger shop on the Coast Guard base in Kodiak on April 12, 2012.

Just as he had throughout the nearly month-long trial, Wells sat with no emotion as the judge read each guilty verdict. He was convicted on two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of murder of an officer or U.S. employee and two counts of use of a firearm in a violent crime.

Belisle was a former petty officer with the Coast Guard who continued to work as a civilian. Hopkins was an electrician.

Prosecutors called this a case of workplace violence turned deadly. They said Wells held a grudge against the men because he thought they were trying to push him out of a job.

The defense said the case was nonsense because there wasn’t any evidence found connecting him to the crimes. Wells’ alibi was that he was late for work the morning of the murders due to a flat tire. His lawyers tried to convince the jury there were other suspects, possibly the victims’ families or friends.

It’s something that angered the widows. They both said they couldn’t understand why Wells’ lawyers would drag their families through the mud. Belisle’s wife said it was disgusting.

“There will never be enough justice to pay for what that man [Wells] has done to me, my girls, to Rich’s family, to our friends,” she said.

“You got what you deserved, you son of a bitch. Die in hell,” Hopkins said when asked what she would say to Wells.

Wells will be sentenced in July. He faces life in prison.

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