Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
James Joseph Main Jr. Of Hays, born in 1960, was sentenced Monday in state District Court in Havre by Judge E. Wayne Phillips to 60 years in the Montana State Prison for accountability in the homicide of Lloyd “Lucky” Kvelstad on Nov. 25, 2006. Main was convicted on Feb. 9 after a six-day trial. Phillips said he would mitigate the sentence in two ways, first by not putting restrictions on Main’s eligibility for parole. With credit for the nearly 2½ years Main served while awaiting trial and sentencing, he will be eligible for parole in about 12½ years. Phillips sentenced Main to less than the 65 years asked for by the state, also the time recommended by the presentence investigation. In pronouncing the sentence, Phillips said one of his reasons for imposing 60 years was that, even if he took no action the night of Kvelstad’s death, he was acting contrary to the beliefs his relatives said he stood for. Members of Main’s family told Phillips that he was a strong believer in the cultural traditions of his Native American heritage and was a kind, helpful man. Phillips said Main’s actions, or lack of actions, ran counter to that. “What concerns me the most ,” Phillips said, “you weren’t practicing your respect for life. You did not stop any of this.” Joyce Metcalf, Kvelstad’s sister, and Kristy Feist, the fiance of his brother Harold, told Phillips Monday that they doubted their lives would ever return to normal. “I have nightmares,” Metcalf said. “They don’t get any better. “It’s ruined a lot of people’s lives,” she added. “It’s ruined a lot of people’s lives, and I don’t know when it’s going to stop. I don’t think the bad dreams will ever stop.” She said that her brothers, Harold and McLean, had come to the trial of Kim A. Norquay Jr. Of Havre, born in 1979, who was convicted of accountability in the homicide of Kvelstad after a seven-day trial in November. Her brothers were so affected by the death of Kvelstad they couldn’t even walk into the courthouse, Metcalf said. Probation and parole officer Holly Matkin, who prepared the presentence investigation, said several factors led to her recommendation of 65 years. One was that although Main had no felony record and no convictions for violent crimes, he did have a fairly extensive misdemeanor record when he was younger, including resisting arrest and obstructing a peace officer, and had been charged with a felony count of assault which was dropped. Main also had received 17 write-ups for infractions at the Hill County Detention Center, although that was over a period of nearly 2½ years and only one was of a violent nature, Matkin said. She said she also was concerned about possible mental health issues and chemical dependency. Although Main had received training in chemical dependency treatment while in California and had even worked in that field, he still has dependency issues himself, Matkin said. She said she doubted basic chemical dependency treatment would help Main and recommended a longer treatment. The severely beaten body of Kvelstad, who was 38 at the time of his death, was found in the residence of Melissa “Missy” Snow. The drawstring from Norquay’s hooded sweatshirt was found tied tightly around his neck. Kvelstad, a Caucasion, had been at a party at Snow’s resid e n c e t h e d a y a f t e r Thanksgiving, a party at which all the other attendees were Native American. Metcalf said Kvelstad liked and respected Native American culture and since his childhood had tended to prefer the company of Native Americans. Nathan Oats, who found the body at Snow’s residence Nov. 25, 2006, said that when he sent his wife to call the police, Main attempted to leave and Oats restrained him. Norquay, born in 1979 and a resident of Havre, did leave the residence at that time. Snow, a Havre resident born in 1968, pleaded guilty in a plea agreement to a charge of tampering with evidence after she admitted cleaning up blood in her kitchen. She was sentenced to three years with the state Department of Corrections with the last year suspended. Norquay was convicted of accountability to deliberate homicide and of tampering with physical evidence after a sevenday trial in November. He also was accused of cleaning Kvelstad’s blood off of his shoes. Judge Laurie McKinnon, who presided over Norquay’s trial, sentenced him to 65 years in prison with no eligibility for parole for 25 years on the accountability for homicide charge, and to 10 years on the tampering with evidence charge. The state had asked for a 50-year sentence with no eligibility for parole for 20 years on the homicide charge. Main had told investigating officers that while he had scuffled with Kvelstad earlier in the night, he knew nothing about his death. Witnesses testified that original fight began over an argument about Thanksgiving, Christopher Columbus and the American Indian Movement. Main became upset when Kvelstad began speaking in a Native American language. One witness testified that after the original scuffle was over, with Kvelstad unconscious or semiconscious in a chair, he heard Main and Norquay talking about killing Kvelstad. Main originally was charged with homicide, with the stipulation that it was committed because of the victim’s race. Later, after Norquay was charged, the charge against Main was amended to accountability for homicide, and the racial motivation charge was dropped. Metcalf said she believes her brother’s death was racially motivated. Phillips also commented on that. “The evidence was clear that racism did play a part,” he said.