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September 24, 2019

8/8/2019 7:26:00 AM
Wolfe demands speedy trial on amended homicide charge, stands mute
Abigail Bostwick
of the Lakeland Times

A demand for a speedy trial Monday in Iron County Circuit Court has pushed up the expected final jury panel to be called to determine the fate of a man accused of being involved in the murder of a Lac du Flambeau man in 2017.

Curtis Wolfe, 27, Lac du Flambeau, is charged with first degree intentional homicide (with use of a dangerous weapon and as party to a crime/conspiracy modifiers) and hiding a corpse (as party to a crime and as a repeater modifiers) in the homicide of Wayne Valliere, Jr., 25.

Also charged were Evan Oungst, 29; Richard Allen, 29; Joseph Lussier, 28; and James Lussier, 20.

A jury found Allen and Joseph Lussier guilty a year ago and the late Judge Patrick Madden sentenced them to life in prison.

James Lussier pled guilty to lesser charges and is serving a 30-year prison sentence, 15 incarceration, 15 on monitoring. Oungst pled guilty on lesser charges also and is awaiting sentencing in October.

At a motion hearing before reserve Taylor County Judge Gary Carlson, special state prosecutors assistant attorney generals Richard Dufour and Chad Verbeten outlined their motion - the main difference being an amendment to the first count, meaning it would now read first degree intentional homicide as party to a crime while armed with a dangerous weapon.

"I don't believe the amendment would in any way prejudice the defendant or in preparing adequately for trial," special prosecutor assistant attorney general Richard Dufour said before Carlson, who was filling in at Iron County Court for the late Judge Madden.

In the second charge, the petition asks for a change to the penalty section - as the state says it inadvertently used older language.

Wolfe's attorney, Fred Bourg, noted he did not disagree with Dufour's recitation of the law.

"The problem that my client has is that this issue has been pending in court for well over a year," Bourg said. "The state did not set out what it intends to accomplish by filing these motions ... not prejudice, I don't know how you can draw that conclusion."

Carlson questioned if Wolfe had requested a speedy trial demand.

"He does want to make one today," Bourg relayed. "The problem here is without knowing all the parameters, we can't say some prejudice won't set in."

Dufour argued prejudice was not likely as the amendment would simply allow the jury to determine if Wolfe acted as conspirator in the crime, or aided and abetted.

"It doesn't change the evidence, or the evidence to be introduced against (Wolfe)," Dufour said. "I just don't see the prejudice unless the (defense) can identify it ... if we're asked to go to trial in 90 days, we're prepared to go to trial in 90 days."

Carlson granted the state's motion for the amendment, which also required a new arraignment.

Wolfe stood mute, thus Carlson entered a not guilty plea to the amended charges on his behalf.

The judge questioned the state and defense's attempts to reach a plea agreement.

"It does not appear to be involving a plea," Dufour said of the case.

"Closer to the trial date, things can change more rapidly," Carlson observed. "Have (both parties sat down)?"

While it once appeared Wolfe was agreeable to a settlement, it now appears he has changed his mind, the prosecutor said.

"The defendant decided not to accept it three weeks before," Dufour said.

With the speedy jury trial requested, the mid-December trial has now been moved to Nov. 4 through Nov. 8.

It is unclear which judge will sit on the trial. A pre-trial is slated for Oct. 21.

Dufour also noted he recently filed information with the governor's office advising his intent to serve as Iron County judge.

Wolfe is being held in Iron County Jail on a $1 million cash bond.

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