Four accused in double homicide appear in court
The lights went out in the first full day of court in the case against four men accused in a double homicide in Douglas County. A power outage interrupted court proceedings March 18 in the case against Christopher Wells and his three co-defendants, throwing the court into darkness during a status update that included review of more than a dozen motions filed by both sides of the case.
Wells, 49, is accused in the murder of his estranged wife, Amara Wells, 39, and his brother-in-law, Rob Rafferty, 49. The bodies of Amara Wells and Rafferty were discovered in the early morning hours of Feb. 23, at the Rafferty home in the remote Keene Ranch subdivision, southwest of Castle Rock.
Court records show Wells’ sister, Tamara Rafferty, was an additional intended victim in the murder-for-hire case.
The 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office filed 27 charges against Wells, including murder in the first degree, conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation to commit murder.
Wells’ alleged accomplices, Josiah Sher, 26, Matthew Plake, 26, and Micah Woody, 29, face multiple charges of first-degree murder. Sher faces 18 charges in the case, including conspiracy to commit murder, child abuse and first-degree arson.
The district attorney’s office filed 13 charges against Plake, including tampering with evidence, first-degree arson and crimes of violence.
Woody faces 19 charges, including solicitation to commit murder, intimidation of a witness and child abuse.
The four were present in the courtroom during the status update, which began with a request from the guardian ad litem of Wells’ 6-year-old daughter to gain access to photos from the scene of the crime. Pamela Gordon Wakefield was appointed the child’s guardian to act as a liaison between the child, as a witness at the scene of the crime, and the court.
Part of Wakefield’s responsibility is to explain court proceedings to the child, interpret requests from the court and help the child communicate with the court during the case.
“I would like to see the crime-scene photos so I have some idea of what might have been viewed by the child,” Wakefield said. “I need some idea of the big picture and her role here or what information she might have.”
Douglas County District Court Judge Paul King denied Wakefield’s request to review crime-scene photos or other case-file information, which was sealed at the time the defendants initially were advised.
King also ruled against Sher’s attorney, who requested access to all text messages, emails and correspondence exchanged between law enforcement personnel and prosecuting investigators from the early stages of the investigation.
Lead prosecutor John Topolnicki informed the court that about a dozen agencies and 68 officers were involved in the early, chaotic stages of the investigation.
“(The defense) is looking for inconsistencies and confusion as it was happening,” Topolnicki said. “That (early stage confusion) has no materiality that justice will occur.”
King ruled on the request after the court re-convened, following the power outage. The room was eerily still during the outage, while detention guards surrounded the four defendants, illuminating the four shackled men with flashlights. The defendants were the first to be escorted from the room, returning to a secure area until power was restored.
The status update finished with a court decision to allow the prosecuting attorneys to continue with lab investigation of evidence collected. Defense attorneys had asked for permission to have defense experts on hand for lab tests conducted by the Colorado Bureau of Investigations.
King denied the request, saying prosecutors will be bound by standard rules to provide DNA and other evidence to defense attorneys for independent testing.
King set the next court dates for April 25 for a motions hearing and June 27-29 for a three-day preliminary hearing.
Click">http://proofs.hcnonline.com/WellsComplaints.pdf">Click here for link to the charges filed by the District Attorney's Office.