The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Final Mercer murder defendant takes plea deal

 

November 1, 2019

Richard Jenkins/Daily Globe

CURTIS WOLFE talks briefly with his attorney Frederick Bourg in Iron County Court Thursday after pleading no contest to four felonies related to the 2017 murder of Wayne Valliere.

By RICHARD JENKINS

rjenkins@yourdailyglobe.com

Hurley - Curtis A. Wolfe, 28, of Lac du Flambeau, appeared in Iron County Court Thursday and pleaded to his role in the 2017 murder of a Lac du Flambeau man.

Wolfe entered no-contest pleas to being a party to the crime of second degree reckless homicide by omission, being a party to the crime of hiding a corpse, being a felon in possession of a weapon, and being the party to a crime of harboring or aiding a felon.

"I have reviewed the criminal complaint in this case. I reviewed Mr. Wolfe's testimony in the Allen-Lussier trial that I previously referenced. I also reviewed the testimony of James Lussier at that trial," said Judge Gregory Grau, referring to the trial of Richard Allen and Joseph Lussier. The two were sentenced to life in prison without parole in August 2018 after a jury convicted them of being the two shooters. "And finally, I reviewed the report attached to (motions filed in Wolfe's case regarding potential witness testimony).

"Based upon the contents of all of those documents and matters, I find there is a sufficient factual bases for the pleas Mr. Wolfe has entered before the court here today."

Wolfe was designated as a repeater on all four of the charges due to a 2017 Vilas County possession of methamphetamine charge, which increases the possible sentence he faces on each count.

Assistant Attorney General Chad Verbeten - one of the special prosecutors trying the case for the Wisconsin Department of Justice - said the plea agreement also calls for the prosecution and defense attorneys to offer a joint sentencing recommendation of 20 years in prison and 10 years of extended supervision.

Wolfe had been scheduled to stand trial on charges of being a party to the crime of first degree intentional homicide and being a party to the crime of hiding a corpse Nov. 4-8, but Thursday's plea negates the need for the jury trial.

Wolfe was one of five men charged in connection to the beating and shooting death of Wayne Valliere Jr., whose body was found Jan. 1, 2018 in a remote area of Iron County.

Prosecutors say the five men drove Valliere into Iron County and shot him on Dec. 22, 2017, depositing the body off a seldom-used road north of Mercer.

The body was recovered behind a berm, hidden off Swamp Creek Road, near the end of Moose Lake Road.

In addition to Allen and Lussier; Lussier's brother, James Lussier, 21, was sentenced in January to 15 years in prison and another 15 years of extended supervision, along with another eight years of probation to be served after the first sentence for his role in the killing.

Another defendant - Evan T. Oungst, 29 - is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to 12 felonies in two cases related to Valliere's murder in May. He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 27.

A pre-sentence investigation was ordered Thursday in Wolfe's case and the parties expressed a hope that sentencing could take place sometime in January.

 
 

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