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62-year-old James Wells, the man charged with the killings of 41-year-old Coast Guard Electrician’s Mate First Class James Hopkins and 51-year-old retired Boatswain’s Mate Richard Belisle while they worked at the Coast Guard Communication Station on the Coast Guard base in Kodiak on April 12, 2012, was found guilty of Murder on Friday.
The verdict was read after a month-long trial at around 2 pm by a 15-member Federal Jury. They deliberated for only six hours before coming to the conclusion that Wells indeed murdered the two men.
Well’s attorneys had argued that Wells was not at the scene of the crime, but had spent nearly 2o minutes in the bathroom of commuter airlines Servant Air before returning home to fix a punctured tire. A tire that expert testimony showed was punctured intentionally, probably with a nail gun.
Countering the defense’s assertions that Wells, who the the defense said suffered from chronic diarrhea after a gall bladder surgery and had spent 2o minutes during the time of the murders in the bathroom, two employees of Servant Air testified that Wells did not use the bathroom at the time of the murders, discounting his alibi.
The prosecution contended that Wells drove to the airport parking lot, switched vehicles, taking his wife’s car, which was parked at the airport while she was away in Anchorage, waited for Hopkins to drive by on his way to work, followed him to the rigging shop where all three worked, then shot and killed Hopkins and Belisle. They used as evidence, a blurred image of a blue vehicle traveling to and from the station at the time of the murders in footage from a security camera near the area.
The weapon used to gun down the two men at the station was never found during the 10-month-long investigation of the two men’s deaths. But the prosecution obtained a witness who testified that he had left a safe with Wells in the 1990s, that safe contained a .44 caliber Smith and Wesson, as well as other guns. That Smith and Wesson went missing from the safe with no explanation of its disappearance.
Wells did not take the stand in his own defense during the trial.
Wells is scheduled to be sentenced on July 8th.