ANCHORAGE – It began like any other day.
“He grabbed his coffee, loved on his puppy and went to work,” Nicola Belisle said.
Richard Belisle’s widow described the last moments she’d see her husband alive as she began her victim impact statement in federal court Tuesday morning.
“As Rich left the house, same as he did every morning, he knocked on the bathroom window to say that he was going,” Nicola Belisle continued.
Her demeanor shifted from sentimental to furious as she addressed the man she says stole her family’s security, future and dreams directly.
“No sentence you impose on that man will ever be enough for him murdering Rich, because there is no true justice for murderers,” Nicola Belisle told Wells. “May you rot in prison James Michael Wells. And I hope you rot in hell.”
In April of this year, Wells, 63, was found guilty of murdering co-workers Richard Belisle and James Hopkins on April 12, 2012 at a U.S. Coast Guard communications station on Kodiak Island. They were found shot to death.
“This was really one of the most planned, premeditated and cold-blooded murders we’ve ever seen,” said U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler in a press conference following Wells’ sentencing.
But Wells continued to maintain his innocence as he addressed the court at his sentencing hearing.
“A tragedy has occurred and we all suffered for it,” Wells said. “I know I’m innocent of this crime and will continue trying to prove that.”
It was a claim of innocence Chief District Court Judge Ralph Beistline immediately denounced.
“Well, there’s one thing that’s absolutely clear to me beyond a reasonable doubt and that’s that James Wells is a cold-blooded murderer,” Beistline said, shifting attention from the courtroom to address Wells directly. “You can fight for your innocence but that won’t make you innocent because you’re guilty.”
It’s Wells’ consistent denial of his role in the carefully executed murders, and his lack of remorse that Beistline says led him to conclude Wells has no hope of deterrence and should serve four consecutive life sentences.
“We can’t repair the lives of these families that were horribly victimized by this truly evil man, but people will go forward,” Loeffler said. “Hopefully, the families can go forward having received justice today after a little over two years.”
One life behind bars in exchange for two lives cut short and many more forever wounded.