Curtis Wolfe, right, and attorney Fred Bourg talk during Wolfe’s motion hearing in Iron County Circuit Court Tuesday, April 30.
5/2/2019 7:29:00 AM Wolfe jury trial in homicide case pushed to December
Abigail Bostwick of the Lakeland Times
It will be nearly the year's end - almost two years' since the brutal homicide of a Lac du Flambeau man - before the fourth of five men accused in the crime will stand trial.
Curtis Wolfe, 27, Lac du Flambeau, was charged with first degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse (as party to a crime), among other charges, in connection with the homicide of Wayne Valliere, Jr., 25.
Also accused are Evan Oungst, 29, Arbor Vitae; and Richard Allen, 28; Joseph Lussier, 28; and James Lussier, 20, all originally of Lac du Flambeau and fellow tribal members of Valliere.
Last August, a jury found Allen and Joseph Lussier guilty in under 45 minutes,
They were sentenced to life in prison without parole. James Lussier pled guilty to lesser charges and is serving a 30-year prison sentence, 15 in incarceration, 15 on monitoring.
At a motion hearing Tuesday morning in Iron County Circuit Court before Judge Patrick Madden, special state prosecutors assistant attorneys general Richard Dufour and Chad Verbeten told the court they'd like to request a Ludwig hearing in a last attempt to settle the case against Wolfe.
A Ludwig hearing serves as fulfilling the right for a defendant to be fully informed of a prosecutor's plea offer. A defendant has the option to accept or reject it there in court.
Wolfe's attorney, Fred Bourg, noted he'd followed all state Supreme Court rules and felt moving ahead with discussing a settlement would prejudice the court.
The last possible settlement received was delivered to Wolfe by Bourg on April 19, it was stated.
"I did deliver that in person," Bourg said to the court and audience, which included members of Valliere's family as well as an attorney for Oungst. "The court may be prejudiced by what it might hear (by disclosing the proposal to settle) ...we're still negotiating and litigating this case."
Verbeten observed the state would like to be sure the defense understood the settlement proposal. The current settlement offer, he said, would be an amended charge to felony murder/aggravated battery with repeater and party to a crime modifiers, felony hiding a corpse as party to a crime and as a repeater as well as two counts of aiding a felon as party to a crime.
Wolfe would have to plead guilty to all those charges.
Those amended charges would be the same as James Lussier's plea agreement, with the exception Lussier was not charged with hiding a corpse.
"The state and defense would be able to argue a sentence following the pre-sentence investigation," Verbeten added.
To inquire on the matter further would not be proper, Madden indicated, and ordered a jury trial to be scheduled.
Originally slated for mid-May, the jury trial is now set for Dec. 9 to 15 with a motions required to be filed by both sides two weeks before.
A motion hearing will be held Nov. 14. It is scheduled for all day.
Wolfe initially told investigators he had nothing to do with the murder of Valliere the morning of Dec. 22, 2017 in a wooded area in the town of Mercer. He would later reveal details and even testify at the dual trial of Allen and Lussier. There, he claimed he thought the six men were going to Bad River on "a drug run."
However, Valliere was beaten and then shot to death, Wolfe indicated. Wolfe confessed to being one of the guys to move Valliere's body off the road and out of sight. Wolfe's testimony also verified he got rid of the murder weapon, a stolen 9-millimeter pistol, eventually recovered the basement of Wolfe's sister's home in Lac du Flambeau.
Wolfe remains in the Iron County Jail on a $1 million cash bond.
He has 17 prior felony convictions in Iron, Vilas and Oneida counties.
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