In Hungry Horse homicide, a plea deal is rejected

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James William Quen pled not guilty to a charge of felony deliberate homicide on Thursday, May 31, in Flathead District Court. Quen was charged after the death of Bradley Allen Winters. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

Homicide suspect James Quen of Martin City will remain in jail after Flathead County District Judge Heidi Ulbricht rejected a plea agreement in court Friday. Quen is charged with the deliberate homicide of Bradley Allen Winters on April 25.

The proposed agreement submitted Wednesday called for the charge of deliberate homicide to be amended to negligent homicide. Quen intended to plead guilty to the new charge and the agreement called for a suspended sentence of 10 years.

But Ulbricht cited Quen’s past criminal history, as well as allegations that never resulted in criminal charges and an alleged incident where he fired dozens of shots into a Flathead County home before driving away.

Court records also indicate Quen’s wife filed for divorce and an order of protection against him in 2004 after she claimed he assaulted a friend of her mother’s. She also claimed he raped her. The divorce was finalized in 2005.

Flathead County Attorney Travis Ahner said a plea deal could still be negotiated.

Quen’s trial is scheduled to begin Monday, Jan. 7.

The case began late on the night of April 25 when a fight over money led to a shooting at a Hungry Horse residence where Winters lived.

According to the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, Quen, 48, allegedly shot Winters in the chest after firing several rounds from a .38-caliber revolver, killing Winters.

According to court documents, the brother of the victim said Quen arrived at the residence and a dispute arose over clothes and money. He said he heard the sound of a gun cocking and then multiple shots fired. The victim’s brother said Winters was hit and Quen then left the area.

Flathead County sheriff’s deputies located Quen at about 1 a.m. April 26 and spoke with him.

He allegedly admitted to being in a dispute with the victim and his brother over money. According to the court documents, Quen admitted firing rounds from the revolver during the dispute.

He also admitted that he pointed his revolver at a person and shot him, and understood that person to be Winters, the document stated.

For the offense of deliberate homicide, Quen is facing 10 to 100 years in state prison. Because a gun was used, he may also face an additional two to 10 years.

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