abigail bostwick/lakeland times
Curtis Wolfe entered no contest pleas in Iron County Circuit Court Oct. 31 in connection with the murder of Wayne Valliere Jr.
11/5/2019 7:30:00 AM Prison expected for Wolfe after 11th hour plea deal in LdF murder
Abigail Bostwick Of The Lakeland Times
A Lac du Flambeau man will likely spend the next couple of decades in prison after pleading no contest last week to homicide charges in connection with the murder of Wayne Valliere, Jr., in December 2017.
Curtis Wolfe, 28, rejected several plea agreements during the nearly two-year-long court proceedings in the five-defendant murder case that began after Wayne Valliere, Jr., 25, of Lac du Flambeau, was beaten and shot to death and his body hidden off a rural dirt road in the town of Mercer days before Christmas 2017.
A five-day jury trial was set for last week to examine Wolfe's role in the murder. However, on Thursday, Oct. 31, a hearing was called for a last minute plea agreement to be formalized.
"An agreement has been reached," noted state prosecutor, assistant attorney general Chad Verbeten, appearing before substitute Judge Greg Grau.
The state's proposition was explained to Wolfe by his attorney, Fred Bourg, on Tuesday, Oct. 29. Wolfe verbally accepted it that same day, Verbeten relayed to the court.
The agreement, as outlined by Verbeten, called for Wolfe to plead guilty or no contest to second degree reckless homicide by omission, hiding a corpse, harboring and aiding a felon - all as a repeat offender and as party to a crime - as well as being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The joint sentence, Verbeten went on, would recommend 20 years initial confinement in prison followed by 10 years extended supervision. A pre-sentence investigation was supported by both the prosecution and defense.
Wolfe confirmed for Grau he fully understood the offer.
"Did you have the full opportunity to review (this offer)?" Grau questioned of Wolfe.
"Yeah, I did," he confirmed.
When questioned for his plea on each count, Wolfe replied, "No contest," to each.
"If you enter no contest (pleas), you understand I will find you guilty?"
"Yeah, I understand," said Wolfe.
A pre-sentence investigation will take at least 60 days to complete.
The sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled.
Wolfe remains in Iron County Jail. He has more than 10 prior criminal convictions in area counties.
A double jury trial last August for fellow defendants Joseph Lussier, 28, and Richard Allen, 29, both of Lac du Flambeau, resulted in guilty verdicts.
They were sentenced to life behind bars.
Also charged were Evan Oungst, 29, Arbor Vitae and James Lussier, 21, also of Lac du Flambeau.
Wolfe and James Lussier testified at the dual trial.
Lussier still seeks post-conviction relief with a public defender, as does Allen - who recently fired his public defender and is proceeding pro se.
James Lussier entered guilty pleas to reduced charges in January of felony murder/battery as parties to a crime/conspiracy and two counts of harboring aiding a felony as party to a crime and is serving a 30-year prison sentence, 15 years incarceration, 15 years on monitoring.
Oungst pled guilty to an amended charge of second degree reckless homicide by omission (as party to a crime) and hiding a corpse (as party to a crime). He will be sentenced in January 2020. Also as part of the plea agreement, he pled guilty to nine counts of harboring/aiding a felon as party to a crime and four counts of manufacture or deliver a prescription drug.
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