A man accused of shooting a Hungry Horse man to death but was never convicted, will get federal prison time on an unrelated drug charge.
James William Quen, 49, of Coram, pleaded guilty in March to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. In a plea deal with prosecutors, he was sentenced Tuesday (July 9) to 12 years in prison and to five years of supervised release, said U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme.
Quen’s vehicle was stopped for a traffic violation on Dec. 16, 2017 in St. Regis. A search warrant was later served on the vehicle and law enforcement recovered five pounds of meth inside. Five pounds of meth is the equivalent of about 18,120 doses, federal prosecutors claim. Investigators also received information that Quen had gone to Oregon to get the meth and had supplied pound quantities to another person, who had seen Quen in possession of 10 pounds of meth.
But Quen was not held by the feds and in 2018, Flathead County charged Quen with deliberate homicide in the shooting death of Bradley Allen Winters at Winters’ Hungry Horse residence.
Quen allegedly shot Winters in the chest after firing several rounds from a .38-caliber revolver, killing Winters the evening of April 25.
According to Flathead County District 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.
Quen was taken into custody a few hours later.
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.
Quen was then held by federal prosecutors on the drug charges.