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Iron murder trial focuses on alleged jailhouse confession


August 8, 2018

Ralph Ansami/Daily Globe

IRON COUNTY, Wis., murder trial defendants Richard Allen, left, and Joseph Lussier, right, stand with defense attorney Craig Haukaas at the end of Tuesday's proceedings. Haukaas is representing Lussier in a joint trial, with Allen represented by James Lex.


Hurley - The murder trial of two Lac du Flambeau tribal members recessed Tuesday after defense attorneys attempted to poke holes in an alleged jailhouse confession.

Emanuel Reyes testified that Joseph D. Lussier, 26, had confessed to shooting Wayne M. Valliere Jr. on Dec. 22. Also charged in the execution-type shooting and hiding the corpse near Mercer is Richard F.A. Allen, 27.

"He said he shot him in the face and blood came out like a faucet," Reyes said twice of Lussier's alleged confession in a cell at the Vilas County Jail in Eagle River.

Reyes said he was a friend of Lussier and Allen.

He said he sent a note to a jail attendant on Dec. 30 saying, "I know who killed Wayne Valliere Jr."

Reyes said he was told the two and Evan T. Oungst, 27, of Arbor Vitae; James Lussier, 19, of Woodruff, and Curtis Wolfe, 26, of Lac du Flambeau, took Valliere for a ride and shot him "out-of-state."

Reyes testified, "He (Lussier) said he slumped him," after beating Valliere.

Reyes alleged he was told that Valliere said, "Just get it done," prior to the shooting.

Craig Haukaas, attorney for Joseph Lussier, said Reyes told two versions of the story and several of his statements didn't add up. In one version, Lussier is alleged to have told Allen to do the shooting, Haukaas said.

Haukaas also said if Lussier said he had "slumped" Valliere, in gang jargon that could have meant he merely beat him up.

He also painted Reyes, who has been convicted of 19 crimes and is now serving time in the Dodge Correctional Institute, as a man who told people he would do anything to get out of jail.

Reyes said he drank "Chipper-side," an alcoholic mix, before he spoke with Joseph Lussier.

James Lex, attorney for Allen, said Reyes believed the shooting occurred in Minnesota, not Mercer.

But under questioning from Chad Verbeten, one of the assistant Attorneys General prosecuting the case, Reyes said he didn't receive anything for his testimony, although the defense indicated he was moved to a different cellblock.

Reyes' testimony followed opening day proceedings in which Clint Eades Jr. said on Dec. 23 or Dec. 24, Allen said he shot Valliere in the cheek and then "Joey emptied a clip into him."

On Tuesday, Eades' fiance said he had told her he'd been informed about the killing.

There was also Tuesday testimony alleging a scuffle occurred in a car between Valliere and Joseph Lussier in a trip to Rhinelander where weapons were drawn after a necklace had been thrown out of the window of the vehicle.

Another witness, now in jail, described herself as always high on meth last year.

Valliere's body was dumped in a desolated area near Mercer. It was found on New Year's day along Swamp Creek Road.

Valliere was reported missing when he didn't show up for Christmas brunch with his family.

Wayne Valliere Sr. testified Monday his son was not home on the morning of Friday, Dec. 22, when the two had planned to go hunting.

Forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Stier testified Tuesday morning the autopsy on Valliere "was one of the most complicated exams in my years of doing this."

The body arrived frozen for the autopsy at Madison on Jan. 5 and it was two days before it thawed out to allow completion of the exam, he said.

The cause of death was listed as homicide from "multiple firearm injuries."

There were six shots to the back, two to the neck and one to the head, Stier said.

Predation from animals was evident, he said, and the nose was "absent at autopsy."

Bruises had been made to the body while Valliere was still alive, Stier said.

Amphetamine and methamphetamine were found in the victim's blood stream, and cocaine in the urine, but not the blood.

Stier said several of the 9-millimeter shots could have been fatal and all would be fatal, given enough time.

What Stier called a "souvenir bullet" that might not have been sustained in the shooting was found in the right arm, behind the wrist, with no bleeding around it.

The autopsy was complicated by the fact that thawing can cause bruising, Stier said, with the body being 70 percent water.

Many of around 25 Lac du Flambeau tribal members, including Valliere Sr., sobbed as they heard detailed testimony about the autopsy.

The state has called 26 witnesses in the first two days of trial. Assistant Attorney General Richard Dufour said the state's case may conclude by Friday morning.

The defense will then call an undetermined number of witnesses.

Other witnesses Tuesday were asked about a maroon-colored van that was impounded after the shooting, allegedly spotted on video at a Mercer convenience store.

Vilas County law enforcement officers testified about the chain of custody involving several items of evidence, including a pair of white and black sneakers.

There was also short testimony about the gun, which may have been able to fire 11 shots.

James Lussier, who has entered a plea deal, is expected to testify on Thursday.


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