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Lac du Flambeau man sentenced for role in Valliere murder

 

January 23, 2020



By RICHARD JENKINS

[email protected]

Hurley — A Lac du Flambeau man will spend more than two decades in prison for his role in the 2017 slaying of a childhood friend, Wayne Valliere Jr.

Curtis A. Wolfe, 28, was sentenced in Iron County Court Wednesday to 20 years in prison and 10 years of extended supervision after his release for being a party to the crime of second degree reckless homicide, followed by 5 years in prison and 3 years of extended supervision for being a party to the crime of hiding a corpse for his role in the murder that took place in a remote area of Iron County.

Prior to Judge Gregory Grau imposing his sentence, the court heard from several members of the victim’s family. They all spoke of the tragic impact of Valliere’s death has had on the family and questioned how Wolfe could participate in the murder of a childhood friend.

“If that was you about ready to get shot, my son would have said ‘Curtis run. Run.’ But you didn’t, you helped those people. You helped those boys beat my boy, you dragged my son’s body into the woods — left him like a piece of meat in a snowbank. I can’t forgive you for that, Curtis,” Wayne Valliere Sr., told Wolfe. “Maybe the Great Spirit will some day, I can’t do it.”

He said that he never knew what hate was until his son’s death and it has changed him.

Prosecutors said Wolfe and four other 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 on Jan. 1, 2018, hidden off Swamp Creek Road, near the end of Moose Lake Road.

Grau, the judge assigned to hear Wolfe’s case, also sentenced Wolfe to 5 years in prison and 5 years of extended supervision for being a felon in possession of a weapon and another 5 years in prison and 5 years extended supervision for being a party to the crime of harboring or aiding a felon. These two sentences will be served concurrently to the homicide sentence.

Grau said there were three factors to consider when a judge imposes a sentence — the seriousness of the crime, the character of the defendant and their rehabilitative needs, and the need to protect the public.

He read testimony from 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 — regarding Wolfe’s participation in assaulting Valliere before he was shot and then helping move the body off the road.

“It was a cold-blooded, brutal, vicious, gang-like slaying. I find what adds to the seriousness of this heinous, cowardly murder that you were part of is the pain and the agony and the terror that Wayne Valliere spent the last moments of his life (experiencing),” Grau said. “I further find what adds to the extreme seriousness of the homicide is the impact it has had on the friends and the family and the loved ones of Wayne Jr.”

He also said the decision to hide the body increased the seriousness of the crimes, calling it “an act that trashes and defies dignity.”

“It is an act that will continue to haunt those that survive and love Wayne — always having to think of and remember those nine days his body lay in the frigid elements alone, discarded, frozen and left to whatever might come upon him,” Grau said. “Yes, Mr. Wolfe, that’s how you left your best friend to spend Christmas 2017.”

Wolfe’s attorney, Frederick Bourg, told the court his client agreed with what was said in the victim impact statements.

He described Wolfe as someone who has tried to help people and do the right thing, but has also fallen down and made mistakes throughout his life.

He also said it was methamphetamine that brought the five defendants together when they wouldn’t normally have been.

Although Grau acknowledged Wolfe’s life wasn’t without challenges — including losing both his parents before he was a teenager, early exposure to drug use, a criminal history as both a juvenile and an adult, and lack of significant employment history beyond selling drugs — he said these weren’t excuses but a “meaningful part of why we must be in this court today.”

Grau called incarceration “the only viable alternative as a sentence,” continuing later in the hearing that “I find the public does need to be protected from (Wolfe).”

Having been in custody since his Jan. 2, 2018, Wolfe received a jail credit of 752 days for time already spent behind bars prior to Wednesday’s sentence.

Wednesday’s court hearing means four of the five defendants charged with participating in Valliere’s murder have now been sentenced.

In addition to Allen and Lussier; Lussier’s brother, James Lussier, 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 — is scheduled to be sentenced Monday after pleading guilty to 12 felonies in two cases related to Valliere’s murder in May.

 
 

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