Opening arguments, testimony provided in shooting trial
Prosecution says it was reckless without any reason behind it. Defense says it was an accident, maybe even self-defense.
Now underway in Juneau Superior Court is the case centering around the shooting that occurred December 20, 2011 on Glacierwood Drive in the valley.
Kenneth Nalan is charged with first degree felony assault for severely injuring John Duran. It happened in Nalan’s own bedroom. But exactly how it happened is still unclear after opening arguments and initial testimony Tuesday.
“This isn’t an issue of who done it. It’s a question of why done it,” said District Attorney Dave Brower.
Everyone had reportedly been drinking multiple beers when shooting happened at Nalan’s house.
“So, you’re going to have to figure this out,” said Brower as he addressed the jury during opening arguments. “The state has charged him with assault in the first degree, recklessly causing serious physical injury with a dangerous instrument. Ken Nalan was in his house with his gun in his hand, and he shot John Duran.”
Duran had been dragged out from Nalan’s bedroom to the front porch where he was laying on his side. Both Nalan and his brother-in-law John Day were reportedly over or on him, trying to stem the bleeding before EMTs arrived.
Brower played an audio recording made by the Juneau Police Department’s patrol supervisor at the scene, then-Sargeant David Campbell, as he and his two subordinate officers try to make sense of the scene when they arrive.
“Faster, faster!” Nalan is heard pleading for EMTs to care for Duran and get him to the hospital. “I don’t want to kill a man!” Nalan is also heard on tape apologizing for the shooting.
Campbell, now a lieutenant, said he did not put Nalan and Day in handcuffs because they were compliant, but he admitted that might have been a mistake considering the nature of the incident.
Defense attorney Eric Hedland said Nalan is not disputing that he shot Duran. He wants to show that the shooting was either self-defense, accident, or a reflex. Hedland argues that Duran approached Nalan after drawing a revolver. As he tells it, Nalan sensed danger and grabbed or reached for the weapon just before it went off. .
“He sees Mr. Duran come out behind, come into his view from behind the armoire with the gun in his hand, and he reacts,” said Hedland. “Immediately, (Nalan) grabs the gun, the gun goes off, and Mr. Duran gets shot in the face.”
The bullet passed through Duran to a wall on the other side of the bedroom.
Nadine Peratovich is John Day’s girlfriend who was in Nalan’s house with her baby at the time.
Among the police officers who testified Tuesday was Joseph Bankowski, a rookie who admitted walking into Nalan’s bedroom and picking up the .357 Magnum to unload it. He did it to safely secure the firearm. But he was questioned by Hedland for possibly compromising the crime scene and any evidence in the bedroom.
Officer Steve Warnaca, another patrolman first on the scene, took pictures of the bedroom where the shooting occurred. But he could not explain apparent discrepancies of multiple beer cans and a desk chair that appeared to be positioned differently in crime scene pictures.
Complicating the case for the jury during opening arguments were confusing comments about the gun that was fired and at whom. At one point, Hedland described the gun that was stored in Nalan’s closet as Ruger while Brower even said at one point during opening arguments that it was the main witness John Day that got shot by Nalan.
Nalan appeared very still, had his head down or turned away from the jury during most of the trial on Monday and Tuesday.
Duran and Day are expected to testify as early as Wednesday morning.
A six-man eight-woman jury is hearing the case which is expected to last at least through Friday.