Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
The murder trial of James J. Main Jr. Of Hays, born in 1960, started Monday in state District Court in Havre, with jury selection completed, and the court hearing opening arguments and the testimony of the first witness. Main was charged in December 2006 with deliberate homicide in the death of Lloyd Kvelstad on Nov. 25, 2006. Judge E. Wayne Phillips of Lewistown is presideing over the trial. Assistant State Attorney General Barbara Harris, who is prosecuting the case with Assistant State Attorney General Dan Guzynski, said in her opening arguments that the evidence will show Main assaulted Kvelstad, leading to his death. “We will turn to you to ask you to find James Main guilty as charged,” Harris told the jury. Defense attorney Kenneth Olson said in his opening arguments that Main is not a murderer, he is a scapegoat. The authorities looked for ways to convict him, Olson said. “The state tried to make the evidence fit James Main’s guilt,” Olson said. Kvelstad’s death, which occurred the night following the Thanksgiving holiday in 2006, occurred in the residence of Melissa “Missy” Snow in Havre during a party with several Native Americans at which Kvelstad was the only Caucasian. Kvelstad was described by his sister, Joyce Metcalf, as a carefree, happy- go-lucky man who worked just enough to support his traveling around the country and enjoying himself. He worked odd jobs, sometimes in his home town, sometimes in other areas, returning every few weeks or few months to visit his mother, siblings and his own children and their mother. Metcalf said the death of her brother was a shock he was a friend to everyone, and held no grudges against anyone, she said. The Main trial is the last stage of the prosecution of Kvelstad’s death. Kim A. Norquay Jr. Of Havre, born in 1979, on Nov. 21, 2008, was convicted of deliberate homicide in the death of Kvelstad in November. Both the prosecution and defense agreed to admit the fact of his conviction as evidence in this trial. Norquay is scheduled for sentencing March 16. Snow pleaded guilty to tampering with physical evidence for cleaning up blood in her apartment after the assault on Kvelstad and has been sentenced to three years with the state Department of Corrections with the last year suspended. During the trial Monday, Nathan Oats testified that when he arrived at the residence between 1 a.m. and 2 a. m. Nov. 25, 2006, he discovered Kvelstad’s body, severely beaten and with a drawstring from a hooded sweatshirt tied tightly around his neck. Kvelstad’s pants were pulled down to his ankles, Oats testified. Oats told his wife, Georgetta Oats, to call the police and report a dead body in the residence, he testified. When his wife returned and said the police were on the way, Main attempted to leave and Oats, who had served in the U.S. Marine Corps and received s e l f - d e f e n s e t r a i n i n g , restrained him. Oats also testified that as he restrained Main, Norquay fled the residence. In his opening arguments, Olson said the prosecution is attempted to shift the blame to Main. Kvelstad’s death was caused by the tying of the drawstring from Norquay’s sweatshirt, not by any assault by Main, Olson said. Olson said that while Main did scuffle with Kvelstad, and both incurred minor injuries which bled, after the fight was stopped Kvelstad was still alive and the two began drinking together again. Main was not even in the same room as Kvelstad when the assault that caused his death occurred, Olson said, stating that Main was in a bedroom at that time and did not even know the final assault happened. Harris said the incident happened during a time of drinking at Snow’s residence, a common occurrence there. “Most of the people there were intoxicated, including Lloyd Kvelstad,” Harris said. The fight started when Main picked a fight with Kvelstad, Harris said, arguing about the European discovery and colonization of the New World and about Thanksgiving, with Main calling Kvelstad names including “pilgrim.” Others including Jason Skidmore also were involved in the fight with Kvelstad, Harris said. Eventually, Main “choked out” Kvelstad, knocking him unconscious. When he regained consciousness, Norquay began “shadow boxing” or slapping Kvelstad, although the victim was not yet bleeding or seriously injured, she said. He also threatened to sexually assault Kvelstad, Harris said. Skidmore broke up the fight at that time. Shortly after that, Harris said, several people at the party left and did not return. When Oats and his wife and mother-in-law arrived and discovered the body, Harris said, the only people still there were Snow, Norquay, Main and Billy The Boy. After the state crime lab analyzed clothing of the people in the residence, Harris said, Kvelstad’s blood was found on three people: Snow, Main and Norquay. The trial, expected to last up to two weeks, was scheduled to begin again this morning with witnesses testifying for the prosecution.