Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
The cases were closed and the jury sent to deliberate in state District Court in Havre Thursday during the seventh day of the Kim A. “Junior” Norquay Jr. Murder trial. The jury’s deliberations were continuing this morning. The prosecution and defense attorneys presented their closing arguments, similar in most respects except for their conclusion: whether Norquay, a Havre resident born in 1979, was involved in the assault that led to the death of Lloyd “Lucky” Kvelstad in Havre on Nov. 25, 2006, and whether he tampered with evidence by washing Kvelstad’s blood off of his shoes. In her rebuttal of defense attorney Vince Van Der Hagen’s closing arguments, prosecutor Kathy Seeley said that when the jury reviewed the evidence and testimony in their deliberations, they would find enough to convict Norquay of the charge of deliberate homicide. “You will find beyond a reasonable doubt he did commit that crime, as you will find he did commit the offense of tampering with physical evidence,” Seeley said. Van Der Hagen painted a different picture: Norquay was the wrong man to charge. Van Der Hagen had a common refrain as he reviewed points made during the trial: “And that’s another reason Junior is innocent,” he said. The man who had reason to assault Kvelstad, and who did assault Kvelstad, is James J. Main Jr., Van Der Hagen said. Main, a Hays resident born in 1960, is scheduled for trial on a charge of deliberate homicide in February. Mellissa “Missy” Snow of Havre, born in 1968, has pleaded guilty and been sentenced on a felony charge of tampering with physical evidence for cleaning up blood in her residence where the assault occurred. “When we started this, I told you you would know the person who committed the assault on Lloyd Kvelstad,” Van Der Hagen said at the start of his closing arguments. “I haven’t changed. It’s Mr. Main.” Van Der Hagen said that, while Norquay had no reason, no motive to assault Kvelstad, Main did. Main did not know Kvelstad, and he was jealous because of Kvelstad’s relationship with Snow, he said. He added that the evidence shows that Main was the one fighting the amount of Main’s blood at the scene and on people’s clothing and the damage to Main himself showed he had “gone to war,” Van Der Hagen said. “Junior (Norqauy) did not appear to have gone to war,” he said. The prosecution painted a different picture. While Main may also be guilty “If Mr. Main should be accountable, a jury should decide that” the evidence shows that Norquay is also accountable, prosecuting attorney Daniel Guzysnksi said in his closing arguments. Guzynski described the crime scene, with Kvelstad’s blood throughout Snow’s residence, on the walls, floor and ceiling of the living room and kitchen, in the hallway and in the bathroom. “This is not a single act. This went throughout the residence ,” Guzynski said. “Lucky was brutally, brutally killed, attacked in more than one room, and the defendant was there “We know, from the testimony, the defendant was there the whole time,” he said. The prosecution cannot give a playby- play description of the attack, he said. It can prove that at some point between the time Jason Skidmore and Joseph Red Elk two of the witnesses left the residence and Nathan Oats and his wife and mother-in-law arrived with Oats discovering the body and Georgetta Oats calling the police, Kvelstad was assaulted, a drawstring from a hooded sweatshirt was tied tightly around his neck, and he died, Guzysnksi said Witnesses testified that before they left, Main started arguing with Kvelstad the only Caucasian at a party with the remainder being Native American about racial issues, and the people at the party started assaulting Kvelstad, Guzynski said. One witness testified Norquay slapped and threatened Kvelstad, including threatening to rape him, Guzynski said. Norquay also fled the scene once he heard the police were coming, as Main tried to do, Guzynski said. Oats restrained Main until the police arrived. “As soon as Mr. Norquay knows the police have been called, he bolts,” Guzynski said. Van Der Hagen said Norquay’s drunken confused state was what caused him to flee. He was drunk, didn’t realize that Kvelstad was dead, and didn’t leave when he heard Nathan Oats shout to Georgetta Oats to call the police, Van Der Hagen said. He only left after he saw Nathan Oats and Main scuffling, Van Der Hagen said. “Why would Junior leave? Because, dammit, he had to figure out what happened,” Guzynski said. The analysis of evidence by the state Crime Lab also shows that the three people charged Norquay, Main and Snow all had Kvelstad’s blood on them, Guzynski said. The clothing of no other people interviewed after the incident showed evidence of having the victim’s blood on them. Witnesses also testified that Norquay had blood on his tennis Shoes, and that he washed the shoes later that morning. Guzynski said witnesses testified that there was blood covering much of the shoes, and there was even blood on the shoelaces. “He didn’t merely walk through and get blood on the bottom ,” Guzynski said. “It would have been nice to see how much blood was on these shoes, but the state alleges Mr. Norquay tampered with evidence and that evidence is not available to you.” Van Der Hagen said that while Norquay did wash the shoes, it was the result of his confusion, his trying to figure out what happened. “He’s trying to do what’s right. He wasn’t trying to conceal evidence,” Van Der Hagen said. “He didn't want to deal with what he observed. That doesn’t make him guilty, it makes him innocent.” The prosecution asked, if that was true, why Norquay lied about the blood on his shoes before washing them. Witnesses testified that Norquay told them he got the blood on his shoes by shooting cattle, slaughtering cattle. Another contested issue was a bloody mark on the back of Kvelstad’s sweatshirt. A crime lab expert witness testified that the mark could have been made by the shoes worn by Norquay. Another expert, called by the defense, said it also could have been made by the shoes worn by Jason Skidmore, and that it was not conclusive that Norquay’s shoe had made the mark. Seeley in her rebuttal said testimony shows that Skidmore was not at the scene at the time of the final assault. Guzynski said the evidence shows that Norquay and Main and Snow had been kicking Kvelstad while he was on the floor. “There were three feet stomping on Lucky,” he said. Van Der Hagen said the blood got on Norquay when he tried to stop Main from attacking Kvelstad, not because he was attacking the victim. “He was trying to stop Jim Main,” Van Der Hagen said, also asking that if the state alleges there is a conspiracy with Norquay, Main and Snow all attacking Kvelstad, why Snow was not charged with homicide. But Seeley said in her rebuttal that there was more blood on Norquay’s clothing than would have been there if he simply were trying to stop the fight tests identified Main’s blood on the front and back of Norquay’s coat and jeans, and a spot with Kvelstad’s blood on his sweatshirt, as well as on his shoes. “He wasn’t trying to get Main to behave, he was up close,” Seeley said. Another issue was the drawstring from Norquay’s sweatshirt that had been tied around Kvelstad’s neck. Van Der Hagen said that while Norquay has admitted he pulled the drawstring out of his sweatshirt, it was done some two hours before Kvelstad died. Norquay laid the string on the table in the kitchen, and anyone could have picked it up, Van Der Hagen said. The prosecution presented a different angle Norquay lied to officers about the drawstring at first, changing his story several times, they said. Norquay originally said his hoodie had no drawstring, then said it did but Main had pulled it out, then that he had pulled it out himself but threw it in a trash bag, Guzynski said. The prosecution also pointed out that while Norquay has held from the start that there never was a fob, a plastic piece to keep the string from pulling through the draw holes on the sweatshirt, on one end of the drawstring, evidence shows otherwise. Investigators found a broken fob under the table in the kitchen of Snow’s residence, Seeley said. Van Der Hagen reiterated the jury instructions given before the closing arguments, pointing out that the state must convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Norquay is guilty. “The reason why the law is the way it is is to protect the innocent,” Van Der Hagen said. “I ask you to protect the innocent. Protect Mr. Norquay by finding him not guilty.” Seeley responded in the close of her rebuttal argument that the evidence does show Norquay participated in the assault, in causing Kvelstad to suffer “a violent, unnecessary and unjustified death “We have to hold him accountable,” Seeley said.