Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
The murder trial of James Main Jr. Of Hays unfolded Thursday with witnesses for the prosecution, including former Havre Chief of Police George Tate and experts from the state Crime Lab in Missoula, testifying throughout the day. Main was charged after he was accused of fighting with Lloyd “Lucky” Kvelstad of North Dakota during a par ty in Havre the day af ter Thanksgiving in 2006. The body of Kvelstad was discovered by a man dropping his mother-in-law off at the residence about 2 a.m. Kim A. Norquay Jr. Of Havre was convicted in November of charges of deliberate homicide and tampering with physical evidence stemming from the incident, He is scheduled for sentencing March 16. Melissa “Missy” Snow, in whose residence Kvelstad’s body was found, has been sentenced to three years with the state Department of Corrections with the last year suspended after she pleaded guilty to tampering with physical evidence for cleaning up blood in her residence following the incident. According to testimony of witnesses, Main began arguing with Kvelstad about the European discovery and settlement of the New World and issues like the American Indian Movement during the party. Joseph Red Elk testified that he saw Main put his arm around Kvelstad twice, choking him until Kvelstad passed out, with Jason Skidmore also choking out Kvelstad between the times Main did so. According to testimony, after the situation calmed down Skidmore and Red Elk left with another of their friends, who arrived after the assault occurred. The prosecution contends that at some point after that the group left, Kvelstad was assaulted again, receiving injuries to his head that left blood spattered throughout three rooms in the residence. When Kvelstad’s body was found, a string from Norquay’s sweatshirt was tied tightly around his neck, and his pants were pulled down around his ankles. Sarah Rice testified Tuesday that she spent the evening with Skidmore and Red Elk, and told defense attorney Kenneth Olson that at one point, while taking him on a run to buy alcoHol some time after midnight, she dropped Skidmore off at a residence for a few minutes and he came out with a container of alcohol. Rice said it was possible the residence was Snow’s. During Tate’s testimony, Olson asked several questions about why some evidence gathered at the crime scene was not tested at the Crime Lab. Olson stated in his opening arguments that the prosecution and law enforcement has “tried to make the evidence fit James Mains’ guilt.” Tate testified that in some cases he did not know why certain items were not tested at the lab. Others, he said, such as testing for fingerprints on a cup that may have been used to throw water on Kvelstad, were not tested because their value as evidence would be limited for example, anyone in the house could have picked up that cup at any time and finding fingerprints would not be conclusive. State forensic scient ist Lacey Van Grinsven, who testified about testing items in the Main case at the Crime Lab, also said that some items generally would not be tested the list would be prioritized to reduce the amount of time and money needed for the lab to do its work on limited resources, finding the items with the highest evidentiary, or probative, value. “Officers help us pare down what is the most probative,” she testified. The trial, scheduled to last as long as two weeks, continued this morning.