• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 42s

Kodiak Island murder trial gets underway

By Lauren Maxwell 7:04 PM April 1, 2014

Trial starts nearly two years from the date of the crime

ANCHORAGE –

Opening statements were held Tuesday as a double murder trial got underway in Anchorage federal court. The two men were killed on the Kodiak Island Coast Guard base almost exactly two years ago.

Forty-one-year old James Hopkins and 51-year-old Richard Belisle were shot and killed the morning of April 12, 2012. The men worked together in a communications building on base called the Rigger Shop. Investigators say both men were murdered just minutes after they came to work — shortly after 7 a.m.

The government says the man who murdered them was their colleague, 63-year-old Jim Wells. U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler painted a picture of Wells as a problem employee who harbored a growing resentment toward his supervisor and a fellow employee.

Loeffler said the murders were premeditated, well planned and that Wells was the only one who could have committed them.

Judge Ralph Beistline listened as Loeffler outlined her theory about how Wells used his wife’s car to avoid detection, then produced an alibi about a flat tire that kept him out of work that morning.

Loeffler said her experts will testify that Wells punctured the tire himself.

The defense plans to call on their own experts to explain a variety of things. One of those is video that shows a blue car on base near the scene of the murders at about the same time. The image is blurry. Prosecutors said the car belongs to Wells’ wife, which he was driving while she was out of town. But the defense said their experts will prove the image doesn’t match her car at all.

Defense attorney Rich Curtner said there is another big problem with the government’s theory: there is no evidence that links his client to the crime. The murder weapon was never found, there were no witnesses and many searches of Wells’ home and vehicles turned up nothing. Curtner says there were other people who may have had motives for murder, but investigators never considered them because they were too focused on Wells from the start.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Whale carcass continues to degrade near Kincaid Park

    by Lauren Maxwell on Aug 26, 20:29

    A humpback whale that washed ashore in Kincaid Park is still there. High tides that lapped at the shoreline below the bluffs, near the motor cross track, have failed to move the giant carcass. But in the nearly seven weeks since the whale washed up it has deteriorated considerably. Bones are showing and the body appears […]

  • News

    Back on track: Alaska Military Youth Academy cadets celebrate graduation

    by Eric Ruble on Aug 26, 20:19

    For the last 22 weeks, Brandon Brown didn’t have access to his phone or the internet. At the Alaska Military Youth Academy, he was also cut off from his old way of life. “Before I came to the academy, I was kind of like your typical slacker,” said Brown. “This place really turned me around.” […]

  • Sports

    AFC fights to gain exposure through deal with UFC

    by Dave Goldman on Aug 26, 19:09

    This week the Alaska Fighting Championship (AFC) signed a deal with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for UFC to carry AFC matches on its “Fight Pass” platform digitally. AFC also sold its video library to UFC. “We’re really excited to make this deal with UFC, it was obviously a game changer for my career,” said AFC president Sarah Lorimer. So it […]

  • Weather

    Last 70-degree day of 2016? This weekend may be summer’s last hurrah.

    by Melissa Frey on Aug 26, 17:25

    The warmest weekend this month is underway across Southcentral Alaska. Many locations in the Matanuska-Susitna area and places across the Kenai Peninsula reached the mid-70s Friday. The high temperature in Anchorage will be flirting with 70 degrees both Saturday and Sunday. Mostly sunny skies and dry conditions are also expected across Southcentral. Anchorage typically records […]

  • Lifestyle

    For these rising costs, the middle class has it the worst

    by CBS News on Aug 26, 17:20

    The economics of the health care system can be bewildering, but here’s a truth that middle-class Americans may see all too clearly: they are bearing the brunt of higher medical costs. Since 1984, the middle class has seen its out-of-pocket expenses for health care jump by 60 percent, far outpacing the 28 percent rise in medical costs for poor households, according to […]

  • DayBreak

    Mic Check in the Morning: Harper’s Farce

    by Daybreak Staff on Aug 26, 17:09

    Multimedia science fiction band Harper’s Farce took to the Daybreak stage for a Mic Check in the Morning. The group uses music, words and visuals to explore what it means to be human. According to their website, Harper’s Farce formed in July 2015 as a cover band. The temporary project became collaborative storytelling experience spanning […]

  • Lifestyle

    Living Alaska: Fungus, festivals and a foraging movement

    by Megan Edge on Aug 26, 16:15

    It felt like I was walking through the pages of a children’s book. Vibrant green moss blanketed parts of Moose Meadow in Girdwood. Rain fell in a mist; leaving the fresh aroma of nature in the air and turning the hair sticking out from under my ball cap into curlicues. I was mushroom hunting, as […]

  • Lifestyle

    The Hungry Chum: An eater’s guide to the Alaska State Fair

    by The Hungry Chum on Aug 26, 16:15

    Sports fans talk about opening day like it’s a religious experience of sorts. Some have called it a rebirth, heralded with pageantry. The players are nervous, the fans are on the edge of their seats and everyone hopes the weather holds. For food fanatics in the Last Frontier, that day is the first day of […]