Life in prison ordered for Kodiak murders

A federal judge has sentenced James Michael Wells, 68, to life in federal prison for the April 2012 murders of two employees of the U.S. Coast Guard Communications Station on Kodiak Island.

U.S. District Judge Sharon L. Gleason handed down the sentence in the April 12, 2012 deaths of Electrician’s Mate First Class James Hopkins and retired Chief Boatswain’s Mate Richard Belisle.

Evidence presented at trial established that Wells shot and killed both me with a .44 revolver while they were working at their duty stations in the Rigger Shop at communications station.

First responders found no evidence of a break-in or robbery and both men appeared to be victims of a targeted killing, according to U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder.

“This was a heinous and cowardly act committed upon two members of the Coast Guard family,” said Paul M. Shultz, the special agent in charge of the Coast Guard Investigative Service Northwest Region. “It is a relief that after nearly eight years, family and loved ones can find closure.”

During the sentencing in Anchorage on Jan. 7, Gleason made specific findings for the record that Wells threatened or unlawfully interfered with witnesses and that during the trial that Wells testified on several occasions in a “materially false manner.”