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Defendant's brother offers tearful testimony in Iron murder trial


August 10, 2018


Hurley — The fourth day of the murder trial against two Lac du Flambeau, Wis., tribal members ended with emotional testimony of the brother of one of the defendants.

When James Lussier, 19, of Woodruff, took the stand Thursday, he and many of the people in the packed courtroom audience began weeping.

Lussier gave his account of what happened on Dec. 22, the day Wayne Valliere Jr., 25, of Lac du Flambeau, was murdered in a remote area near Mercer.

Joseph Lussier, 26, and Richard F.A. Allen, 27, are on trial for murder and hiding a corpse in the shooting death. Valliere’s body wasn’t found until New Year’s day.

The 49th witness in the trial, James Lussier was the second person riding in the vehicle that day to testify. Curtis Wolfe, 26, had previously been questioned.

James Lussier described the chain of events leading to what would be Valliere’s last ride. He was killed because he was believed to be a drug informant.

Both he and Valliere had asked to be dropped off at home before the red mini van ended up in Mercer, James Lussier testified. He said he fell asleep along the way on the fatal trip and didn’t know where the van was headed when he woke up.

Joseph Lussier had been driving. His brother said he volunteered to take the wheel, after everyone in the vehicle had been taking drugs along the way.

Also in the van was Evan T. Oungst, 27, of Arbor Vitae.

James Lussier said his brother and Oungst were familiar with the desolate road from hunting there.

James Lussier described how Allen had struck the victim with a “hard blow” sucker punch and a fracas between the two before Allen got a gun out of the rear of the van and shot Valliere in the face.

“Wayne crawled into a ball to protect himself,” James Lussier testified.

He said at one point, Valliere cried out, “What did I do?”

James Lussier said he heard shots go off and saw blood coming from Valliere’s face after Allen’s initial shot. He described the mood in the van as “weird” after the shooting, with nobody saying much on the ride back.

The van continued to Butternut, with James Lussier driving, and eventually Park Falls, before returning to the Vilas County area.

Wolfe was dropped off at his sister’s house in Lac du Flambeau, where the murder weapon was later found by investigators.

James Lussier said Allen had referred to the weapon as “Baby” or “Baby Boy.”

Allen’s defense attorney, James Lex, outlined a long list of lies James Lussier had earlier told investigators.

“I didn’t want to get in trouble,” James Lussier said of the responses.

He said he saw Allen hand the gun to his brother, but didn’t see the first shot and only heard three or four other shots.

Forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Stier testified Tuesday the cause of death was from “multiple firearm injuries,” with six shots to the back, two to the neck and one to the head.

James Lussier admitted to Lex to entering into a plea agreement in the case to get a more lenient sentence.

Earlier Thursday, Department of Criminal Investigation special agent Tami Sleeman answered numerous questions about interviews with Wolfe.

Told the body of Valliere had been located, “He started to cry,” she said.

She said Wolfe had described a similar story of what happened that day.

Wolfe said Allen had a pulled a gun and shot Valliere in the face and then “Joey” shot him several more times, Sleeman testified.

Defense attorneys also said Wolfe had changed his story several times.

After 49 witnesses had testified in the first four days of the trial, assistant Attorney General Richard Dufour said he planned on calling five or six more today. He assured Iron County Judge Patrick Madden he’d be done with the state’s case by noon.

Craig Haukaas, attorney for Joseph Lussier, estimated defense witnesses would testify for about two hours today.

Closing statements then will be followed by instructions to the jury and deliberations to reach a verdict.

Madden said he wouldn’t hold the jury for deliberations over the weekend if it comes to that point, but instead the trial would resume on Monday morning.

Valliere was reported missing when he didn’t show up for Christmas brunch with his family. His body was found behind a berm off Swamp Creek Road.

Other testimony on Thursday centered on Dec. 22-24 cell phone communications and evidence found at the scene, including a rear sight from the 9-millimeter, semi-automatic handgun matching the weapon entered into evidence.

The weapon was found in a red bandana near a heating duct.


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