Testimony slowed Wednesday during a trial of a Juneau man charged with assault in connection with a shooting in the valley.
Attorneys argued outside of earshot of the jury whether a witness’ opinion about the character and reputation of both the shooter and victim could be brought up.
The shooting incident happened at Kenneth Nalan’s home on Glacierwood Drive on December 20th. John Duran was injured when the bullet passed through his face.
Nadine Peratrovich was in the Nalan home and made the 911 call seconds after the gun was fired. Defense attorney Eric Hedland asked her on cross-examination about what she thought about Duran.
“He’s violent, definitely a violent person,” said Peratrovich. “He’s an aggressor.”
Peratrovich was actually the prosecution’s witness. But successful arguments by Hedland to get her to voice her opinions on the stand eventually prompted District Attorney Dave Brower to try impeaching his own witness. He wanted to bring up Peratrovich’s earlier conviction for giving false information to an officer. Superior Court Judge Louis Menendez did not allow it.
Hedland played the entire tape of the nearly seven-minute 911 call that continued until the first officers arrived. A calm, cool, and collected dispatcher provides first aid advice while asking Peratrovich about the location of the injured and the gun. But it’s this small portion of the 911 call that Hedland thinks is important.
“Kind of self defense type of thing, it sounds like,” said Peratrovich to the 911 dispatcher during the call. “They’re all friends. It wasn’t a hostile type of thing. They were just drinking.”
Earlier on Wednesday, a veteran officer said it’s possible that some of the evidence may have been lost during police officers initial response to the scene.
Sargeant Paul Hatch, an officer with twenty years experience who was assigned last year to head up the Juneau Police Department’s investigations unit, admitted that clearing a residence or making sure that it is secure usually entails checking all the rooms. It’s not just one room. Patrolmen who were first on the scene at Nalan’s house following the shooting apparently only checked the master bedroom where the single shot was fired. Hatch was called to the scene roughly forty-minutes after the 911 call.
Under prolonged questioning by Nalan’s defense attorney Eric Hedland, Hatch also said that it’s possible that a rookie patrolman’s actions to take a revolver from the bedroom, unload it, and stick it in his waistband could’ve destroyed any evidence on the gun. That could’ve included fingerprints or blowback debris when the weapon was fired. Hedland also questioned why residue or any injuries on Nalan’s hands were not sampled or properly documented. And who tracked blood in the house with their footprints? Was it Nalan, Duran, or witness John Day, Peratrovich’s boyfriend who was also in the bedroom? Or was it the officer who secured the gun?
Hatch said they treated the house as a crime scene from the very start.
“Once the logistics of tending to the immediate people were taken care of, people were moved out, then yes, it was locked down and secured,” Hatch said.
Duran was severely injured when the bullet passed through his face and lodged in a bedroom wall. He’s expected to testify for the prosecution. Still unclear is who actually had control of the revolver and who fired it.
Nalan’s trial is expected to last through Friday in Juneau Superior Court. A six-man, eight-woman jury is hearing the case.