Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Iron murder trial jury selection expected to take full day


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Hurley — Preparations continued Monday afternoon in Iron County Court for next week’s murder trial, with 110 potential jurors already whittled down to 85.

Judge Patrick Madden said some elderly residents in the jury pool had been eliminated for the Aug. 6-15 murder trials of Richard F.A. Allen, 27, and Joseph D. Lussier, 26, both of Lac du Flambeau.

They are charged in the shooting death of Wayne M. Valliere Jr., of Lac du Flambeau, whose body was found near Mercer on New Year’s day.

Both are charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree intentional homicide and being a party to hiding a corpse.

Madden said he hopes a 14-member jury will be picked by the end of the day on Monday.

The daily trial sessions will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with 45 minutes for lunch, which will be provided for jurors. They will not be sequestered at night.

While the jury is being seated, because of space limitations, the selection process will be simulcast in the small courtroom across the hallway from the main courtroom.

It was revealed during motions hearings on Monday that Allen had earlier submitted a letter to the court seeking a new attorney. Allen told Madden on Monday he changed his mind and is satisfied with James Lex, however, saying, “I have full faith in him going forward from here.”

Lex said, “I’m ready to go.”

Madden said he has dealt with Lex in the past and has always found him prepared.

It was decided Monday the two defendants will not be shackled and will not be required to wear orange Iron County jail suits.

Madden said there will be a large law enforcement presence throughout the courthouse during the trial, including the Department of Criminal Investigation.

The names of numerous potential witnesses were read Monday as their criminal backgrounds were discussed.

Madden had earlier denied a motion for a change of location for the trials for the two men, saying media coverage had not been prejudicial to the Iron County jury pool.

The two reserves on the jury panel will be randomly determined just before deliberations begin.

Assistant Wisconsin Attorney General Richard Dufour, handling prosecution of the case, and the two lawyers for the defendants will each be able to strike seven potential jurors.

Madden also earlier ruled the two men will be tried together, rejecting a motion the cases be severed.

The two men and three other defendants took Valliere for a drive and Allen is alleged to have shot him in the head, with Joseph Lussier then “emptying a clip into the victim,” Dufour earlier said testimony will indicate.

Valliere, a Lac du Flambeau tribal member, is alleged to have been killed on Dec. 22.

Also charged with being a party to murder and hiding a corpse are James Lussier, 19, of Woodruff; Evan T. Oungst, 27, of Arbor Vitae, and Curtis Wolfe, 26, of Lac du Flambeau.

According to the criminal complaint, Valliere was thought to be a drug informant by the five defendants.

Joseph Lussier is being represented by Craig Haukaas.