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Trial in Coast Guard murders continues

By Lauren Maxwell 6:28 PM April 3, 2014

Former state medical examiner takes the stand

ANCHORAGE –

Thursday was a rough day for some at the trial of a man accused of killing two of his co-workers on the Coast Guard base on Kodiak Island.

First to take the stand was a former state medical examiner who performed autopsies on the two men.

James Hopkins and Richard Belisle were killed almost exactly two years ago, but seeing the photos of their bodies was a tough way to start the day. Some family members left the courtroom when Dr. Meredith Lann took the stand.

Lann described the wounds that killed the two men, showing jurors a diagram of bullet entry and exit wounds. Lann explained that each man was shot three times. She said a bullet wound to the head likely killed Hopkins immediately, while Belisle was struck in three major organs.

Jurors looked at evidence including the clothing the men were wearing when they died. An FBI expert testified about other evidence collected from the scene.

Later on, the testimony turned to Jim Wells, the man the government says shot and killed his co-workers shortly after they arrived at work the morning of April 12, 2012. Several witnesses testified that Wells was extremely knowledgeable in his trade but a difficult employee who was often hard to work with.

So far, only prosecution witnesses have taken the stand and several more are expected before the defense gets its turn. The trial takes a break on Friday and continues Monday.

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