May 12, 2009 in City

CdA shooting victim, home from college, ‘always excelled’

Meghann M. Cuniff Staff writer
 
Courtesy Tribe photo

Wolfe
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

A man accused of gunning down a college student in the streets of downtown Coeur d’Alene told detectives he’d waited for the victim to leave a bar after arguing with him, court documents show.

Juan C. “Yoshio” Aldana Villanueva, 22, is being held without bail at the Kootenai County Jail, suspected by police of killing Timothy I. Wolfe, 21, in an early-morning confrontation Saturday near two popular Coeur d’Alene nightspots.

It’s the city’s first homicide in nearly two years.

Wolfe, a star athlete who helped lead Lakeside High School teams to state tournaments, was among just a few enrolled Coeur d’Alene tribal members from his high school graduating class to attend college. Friends say he was in North Idaho for a Mother’s Day weekend visit from Montana when he was shot.

Villanueva, a Honduras native, may have been planning to flee the country when he was arrested at the Post Falls Mexican restaurant Rancho Viejo, where he works, Kootenai County Deputy Prosecutor Marty Raap told Judge Jim Stow on Monday. Villanueva appeared before Stow via video that afternoon. He’ll be asked to enter a plea on the first-degree murder charge later this month.

‘It’s over when he is angry’

According to court documents, Wolfe argued with Villanueva at Mik-n-Mac’s bar on Fourth Street before Villanueva left with his girlfriend about 1 a.m.

Police gave no details about what triggered the fight, but just after 2:15 a.m., the two met again about a block away at Third Street and Indiana Avenue near the Torch Lounge.

Soon, Wolfe was dead from a gunshot wound to his head, and police were searching for the killer. Villanueva quickly emerged as a suspect.

Detectives used a combination of Internet scouring, interviews and tips to identify him, according to a probable cause affidavit prepared by Coeur d’Alene police Lt. Jay Heitz.

The disc jockey at Mik-n-Mac’s Friday night knew Villanueva as the amateur rapper Yoshio and told police about his MySpace page, where they found a comment about a friend housed at the Kootenai County Jail. That inmate told detectives Villanueva worked at Rancho Viejo, where another tipster had said they could find the suspect, documents show.

The tipster also said Villanueva was making plans to return to Honduras and wanted to remove an Atlanta Braves sticker on the back of his 1994 purple Acura Integra to help him hide from police, according to the documents.

Police arrested Villanueva at the restaurant about 11:20 a.m. Saturday. Villanueva’s MySpace page said he moved to Idaho three years ago to be with his girlfriend.

The two have a young son, said Jessi Briseno, manager of the bar at Toro Viejo on Lakeside Avenue in downtown Coeur d’Alene.

Villanueva frequented her bar and was there hours before the killing but “we’ve never had a problem with him,” Briseno said.

“He was pretty much always talking about his band,” Briseno said. “He really wanted to do a show here.”

Villanueva has a CD titled “El Principio de mi Entretenimiento,” Spanish for “The Beginning of my Entertainment.”

In an interview with Coeur d’Alene police Sgt. Todd Hedge, Villanueva said he’d driven back to Coeur d’Alene to wait for Wolfe after dropping off his girlfriend in Post Falls.

He told police he rolled down his window and confronted a group of people, then shot Wolfe after being hit in the face and grabbed around the neck, according to documents. Police noted swollen lips and bruising around Villanueva’s mouth.

“Juan also said he is an angry man and it’s over when he is angry,” according to the affidavit.

Detectives found a .25-caliber automatic pistol they say was used in the killing off the westbound lanes of Interstate 90, near exit 7. A search of his Acura revealed a spent shell chasing that matched the gun, documents show.

‘He always excelled’

The victim, Wolfe, was a star athlete at Lakeside High School in Plummer and one of a small group of his graduating class to go on to college, said Mike Sifford, a lifelong friend.

Wolfe studied and played basketball at Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, Mont., but he returned to Worley often to visit his girlfriend and 16-month-old daughter, Sifford said.

“Everything was always about his little girl,” Sifford said. “The thing about Tim is he always excelled. There was never a peak or plateau for Tim; he just kept getting better at what he did.”

The tribal and Plummer-Worley communities are reeling from Wolfe’s death, Sifford said, and no funeral plans have been announced.

Wolfe played basketball and football and ran track in high school.

Wolfe, Sifford and two others were nicknamed “the four fathers” and did almost everything together, Sifford said.

They took trips to the lake, played in state basketball tournaments in Boise, and worked construction and janitorial jobs in high school. They were already making plans for Wolfe’s return to Worley this summer, Sifford said.

“The little stuff is really what added up to make for a good time,” Sifford said.

“Tim loved to have fun, but he knew when to be serious.”

He was listed as a business major in college but planned to switch to human resources, Sifford said.

Sifford described Wolfe’s announcement that he’d be going on to college as “just huge.”

“We were so proud of him,” Sifford said. “He had his whole life ahead of him.”

Meghann M. Cuniff can be reached at (509) 459-5534 or at meghannc@spokesman.com.


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