The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Valliere murder case ranks as top 4 story


December 27, 2018

Ralph Ansami/Daily Globe

JOSEPH LUSSIER, left, and his attorney, Craig Haukaas, listen to arguments during Lussier's preliminary hearing on murder charges in May in Iron County Court. Lussier and Richard Allen were convicted in an August week-long trial.

Editor's note: The Daily Globe is counting down the top five stories of 2018. Today's story, number 4, is about the events surrounding the murder of Wayne Valliere Jr. in the Mercer, Wis., area a year ago. Number 5 was the ambulance millage that was passed for three years in Gogebic County.



As 2019 approaches, the Lac du Flambeau tribal community continues to deal with a holiday horror of a year ago.

The body of 25-year-old tribal member Wayne M. Valliere Jr. was found off a tote road near Mercer on New Year's day and five men were eventually charged with his murder.

The Daily Globe news staff ranked the murder case developments as the fourth-rated story of 2018.

After an emotion-filled, week-long August trial in the Iron County Courthouse at Hurley, Richard F.A. Allen, 28, and Joseph D. Lussier, 27, were convicted by a jury of murder and hiding a corpse in Valliere's death. They are serving life sentences in prison.

The two men and the three other defendants took Valliere for a drive and Allen shot him in the head, with Lussier "emptying a clip" into Valliere's body. They suspected he was a "snitch," or informant, but that was never proved in court.

Assistant Wisconsin Attorney General Richard Dufour continues to handle prosecution of all facets of the case into the new year.

Iron County Judge Patrick Madden presided over the trial of Joseph Lussier and Allen, after ruling the two men would be tried together. He rejected a defense motion the cases be severed.

The jury heard from dozens of expert witnesses, an inmate on jailhouse comments and numerous members of the tribe who testified about the events of that tragic holiday period.

All the while the small courthouse gallery was packed with Valliere's family members, friends and tribal members.

Now James Lussier, 20, of Woodruff, the brother of Joseph Lussier, awaits sentencing on Jan. 30 at 10 a.m. for being a party to the crime of felony murder and two counts of aiding a felon. A pre-sentence investigation was completed for him in October after a plea agreement was reached. He was scheduled to be sentenced in November, but it was postponed.

Just last week, a five-day jury trial was scheduled for Curtis Wolfe, 27, of Lac du Flambeau, in connection with the murder. His trial will begin on May 13, unless a plea agreement is reached before then. An April 30 status conference is the next court hearing for Wolfe in Iron County.

Evan T. Oungst, 28, of Arbor Vitae, the fifth defendant, is charged with being a party to the homicide and hiding a corpse, among several other charges. He is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 22 at 11 a.m. for arraignment.


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