Wells pleads not guilty in murder-for-hire

Accused mastermind, remaining defendants enter pleas in Douglas County District Court

Posted 2/10/12

The accused mastermind in the murders of former Monument resident Amara Wells and her brother-in-law Robert Rafferty pleaded not guilty in Douglas …

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Wells pleads not guilty in murder-for-hire

Accused mastermind, remaining defendants enter pleas in Douglas County District Court

Posted

The accused mastermind in the murders of former Monument resident Amara Wells and her brother-in-law Robert Rafferty pleaded not guilty in Douglas County’s notorious murder-for-hire case today.

Christopher Wells, of Monument, along with his accused co-conspirators Matthew Plake and Micah Woody entered pleas of not guilty Feb. 10 before a packed courtroom in Douglas County District Court. The three are among four men accused in the grisly deaths of Wells’ estranged wife Amara Wells and Rafferty. The two were killed in the Rafferty home Feb. 23, 2011, after Wells allegedly hired accused gunman Josiah Sher to murder them for the sum of $15,000.

Sher entered a plea of not guilty and was informed in a Jan. 31 court hearing that he faces the death penalty, this despite the fact that Sher had previously confessed to the murders of Amara Wells and Rafferty. The two murders were witnessed by Amara Wells’ then 6-year-old daughter, who remains the state’s only living witness to the crimes.

Wells also reportedly hired Sher to kill Wells’ sister Tamara Rafferty, who was not at the home the night of the murders. Tamara Rafferty was in court however, the day her brother entered his not-guilty plea.

He entered his plea with a new defense team and a new look. Wells was the only defendant not in a prison-issued uniform, but instead wore a suit and tie. Representing Wells in court, along with his original attorney Tina Tussay-Cooper, was a new defense attorney Mark Walta.

Walta asked and received permission from the court to enter the Rafferty home for a walking tour of the scene of the crime. Walta asked for access to the home to allow the new defense team to take measurements and photos of the crime scene.

The prosecution objected to the request, saying Tamara Rafferty no longer lives in the home and has it on the market for resale. Douglas County District Court Judge Paul King granted Walta’s request, however.

“I understand the victim’s right to privacy and I know the factual allegations of what took place in that residence,” King said. “But I know we have charges of first degree murder and I have to balance the interests. From the viewpoint of a lawyer, going to the place where the crime took place and standing there where it happened, it’s hard to place a value on it.”

According to King’s instructions, three of the four defense teams will be provided access to the home on an agreed-upon date, with permission to take photos, measurements and videos. The tours will take place on a single day, at separate times, accompanied by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and Tamara Rafferty’s real estate agent.

Sher’s attorney successfully argued for confidentiality during the tour, with permission to bring anonymous experts into the home, whose identity and purpose can be withheld from the prosecution team.

Lead prosecutor Chief Deputy District Attorney John Topolnicki expects that District Attorney Carol Chambers will have a decision by April 9 about whether or not prosecutors will seek the death penalty against Wells, Plake and Woody. The next scheduled court date for Wells is at 8:15 a.m., April 10; the next scheduled court date for Plake and Woody is at 1:30 p.m., April 20.

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