Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
After deliberating part of two days, a jury in state District Court in Havre Friday, Nov. 21, convicted Kim A. Norquay Jr., born in 1979, of felony charges of deliberate homicide and tampering with evidence. Norquay was charged in connection with the beating or strangulation death of Lloyd “Lucky” Kvelstad of North Dakota on Nov. 25, 2006, the Thanksgiving weekend of that year. Judge Laurie McKinnon of Shelby, who presided over the trial, ordered a presentence investigation and said she would schedule a sentencing hearing for Norquay, probably in January. Norquay sat stoically during the reading of the verdict and a poll of the jury requested by his attorney, Vince Van Der Hagen. All members of the jury confirmed the convictions. Norquay turned to address his family and friends as he was led from the courtroom by law enforcement officials. “Don’t let them see you crying,” Norquay said. “Don’t give them the satisfaction. “That’s one less Native in Hill County,” he added. Norquay was in the Hill County Detention Center this morning awaiting sentencing and trial on another charge. He faces life in prison or a sentence of not less than 10 years and not more than 100 years in prison on the homicide charge. He faces a sentence of not more than 10 years in prison on the tampering with evidence charge. Norquay also faces trial in state District Court in Havre on Jan. 14 on a felony charge of possession of a weapon by a prisoner. He is accused of sharpening the handle of a toothbrush to a point while awaiting trial for the homicide charge. Norquay was accused of committing or aiding and abetting in the commission of aggravated assault on Kvelstad, resulting in his death. Kvelstad was severely beaten during a party at the residence of Mellissa “Missy” Snow, and had the drawstring of the hooded sweatshirt Norquay was wearing that night tied tightly around his neck. Kvelstad was the only Caucasian at the party, with the rest of the people there Native Americans. Witnesses testified that the assault began after Kvelstad and James J. Main Jr. Of Hays, born in 1963, began arguing over racial issues and Main began using racial slurs and insults against Kvelstad. Witnesses testified that many at the party participated in scuffling with Kvelstad, shoving, hitting and choking him, but that the situation had calmed down and Kvelstad was not severely injured when they left about 10 or 11 p.m. Kvelstad’s severely beaten body with the string tied around his neck was discovered when another group arrived at the residence about 1 a.m. Norquay fled from the scene after it was announced that police were on the way and Main was prevented from f l e e i n g , w i t n e s s e s t e s t i f i e d . Norquay also was accused of washing Kvelstad’s blood off of the tennis shoes he was wearing at the time of the incident. Snow, born in 1968, pleaded guilty to the felony offense of tampering with physical evidence for cleaning up blood at the scene after Kvelstad was assaulted. Judge David Rice originally imposed an 18-month deferred imposition of sentence for the offense. On Sept. 29, after Snow admitted violating conditions of her release on the deferred imposition, he revoked that sentence and sentenced Snow to three years with the Montana Department Of Corrections with the last year suspended. Main is charged with deliberate homicide in the death of Kvelstad and is scheduled to go on trial in February. The jury, chosen after a full day of jury selection on Nov. 12, deliberated for part of Thursday, Nov. 20, and Friday, Nov. 21, after seven days of testimony by witnesses and the prosecution and defense presenting their closing arguments Thursday. The jury, comprising men and women, Caucasians and Native Americans, deliberated from 12:55 p.m. to 7:49 p.m. Thursday, returning at 8:30 Friday morning to resume deliberations. The jury notified the court at about 9 a.m. that it could not reach a verdict, and received instructions at about 9:45 a.m. about resolving hung juries. The jury notified the court at 11:32 a.m. that it had reached its verdict on both counts, and the court read the verdicts at 12:05 p.m.