Man who dodged homicide charge now faces federal prison time in drug plea

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James William Quen, shown here during an appearance in Flathead County District Court. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

A Martin City man who dodged a homicide charge for allegedly shooting a man in Hungry Horse will still end up in prison on federal drug charges.

In late March, James William Quen, 48, agreed to plead guilty to one count of possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine. According to federal court documents, Quen had more than 1 pound of meth while he was in St. Regis and was selling it both Flathead and Mineral counties during the summer of 2017.

Under the plea deal, a conspiracy to distribute meth charge was dropped.

In April 2018, Flathead County charged Quen with deliberate homicide in the shooting death of Bradley Allen Winters at his Hungry Horse residence.

Quen allegedly shot Winters in the chest after firing several rounds from a .38-caliber revolver, killing Winters.

According to Flathead County District court documents, the brother of the victim said Quen arrived at the residence on April 25 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 court documents, Quen allegedly admitted firing rounds from the revolver during the dispute. Quen also allegedly admitted he pointed his revolver at a person and shot him, and understood that person to be Winters, the document stated.

But the case never made it to trial.

Flathead County Attorney Travis Ahner dropped the case after key witnesses in the shooting were uncooperative. It was expected Quen would plead self-defense in the case, and according to Ahner, the case was strong as “all of the individuals involved were on meth at the time” of the incident so that eye-witnesses’ testimony could not provide a clear picture of what really took place, he said at the time.

But Quen never saw any freedom. He was immediately held by federal prosecutors on the drug charges.

Sentencing in the plea deal is scheduled for July 11 in front of U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy. He faces a mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison, a $10 million fine and at least five years of supervised release.

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