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Brothers indicted in UI killing

Matthew Wells
 (The Spokesman-Review)
Matthew Wells (The Spokesman-Review)

A grand jury indicted two brothers on Wednesday in the shooting death of University of Idaho football player Eric McMillan, the Latah County prosecutor’s office announced in a press release on Thursday.

Matthew R. Wells II, 27, and James J. Wells, 25, were indicted on charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the Sept. 19 shooting of McMillan.

The jury also indicted the Wells’ nephew, Thomas J. Riggins, 23, with principal to first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Riggins, who had not previously been mentioned publicly in connection with the case, was arrested in Kent, Wash., on Thursday morning, the press release said.

McMillan was shot in his chest at the entrance of his apartment in Moscow, Idaho, and died the next morning. Witnesses provided police with a license plate number of a BMW that was at the scene. The car was registered to Matthew Wells.

Soon after the shooting, a Whitman County deputy saw a BMW matching the description and began a chase that lasted 150 miles and ended in the arrest of the brothers. Since their apprehension they’ve been held in the Whitman County Jail. Last month, the brothers pleaded innocent to charges in Whitman County that they attempted to elude police.

The Wellses’ Whitman County case is scheduled to go to trial on Nov. 15. But Mark Monson, who represents James Wells in that case, said he was informed Thursday that County Prosecutor Denis Tracy will seek to have the eluding cases dismissed today, so the two can be sent to Latah County to face the murder counts. Monson said the brothers only faced up to 60 days in jail for eluding police.

“The charges in Idaho are so much more severe, it’s a better use of time to go there first,” Monson said.

Monson, who will not represent James Wells in the murder case, said he expects his client to plead innocent to the new charges. He added that as far as he knows, neither brother has any criminal convictions.

The attorney who is representing Matthew Wells, Steve Martonick, could not be reached on Thursday.

The Wells brothers recently were called to testify to a grand jury in Latah County. The proceedings were secret, but Monson said the grand jury is likely the same one that indicted the brothers.

He advised his client to say nothing at the hearing.

“He was in there for a couple minutes and essentially pleaded the Fifth,” Monson said.

Matthew and James Wells, who are from Seattle, remained in the Whitman County Jail on Thursday, each on a $1 million bond. Riggins’ whereabouts were unclear Thursday evening.