Testimony continues on Friday in the case of John Marvin, Jr. who’s accused of causing the deaths of Hoonah police officers Matthew Tokuoka and Sgt. Anthony Wallace on August 28, 2010.
Trial proceedings on Thursday included opening arguments from District Attorney Dave Brower and public defender Eric Hedland.
Jurors also heard a playback of police radio traffic calls, and testimony from Matthew’s wife Haley Tokuoka and Wallace’s mother Deborah Green. Hoonah resident William Wells and former Hoonah police chief John Millan also testified.
Brower is prosecuting the case with courtroom assistance by assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp and Alaska State Trooper Sgt. Michelyn Manrique.
Sitka Superior Court Judge David George is presiding over the trial at the Dimond Courthouse in Juneau. Ten trial days, or two calendar weeks, have been set aside for the trial. But court proceedings don’t always follow a previously set schedule.
Eleven men and three women make up the jury that was seated on Wednesday. Two of the jurors will be randomly selected as alternates before the jury starts deliberations.
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Map shows approximate location of the shooting incident on August 28, 2010. According to court testimony, officers Tokuoka and Wallace were shot near a tractor-trailer that was parked on the water side of Front Street below Hoonah Liquor Store (The red ‘A’ pin is on the north side of the store).
In addition to updated stories that you can hear on KTOO’s regularly-scheduled newscasts, we’ll also be live-blogging the events and proceedings of the trial.
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- A state economist said the oil and gas industry is shrinking fast, but it could bottom out soon.
- Tlingit battle helmets were designed to inspire fear. The thick, wooden head armor carried imagery of strong warriors, fierce animals or revered ancestors.
Overheard: “Could you imagine the O.J. trial?”
From Dave Brower after the end of today’s session when the judge, jury, defendant had already left. He was helping the in-court clerk round up pieces of physical evidence that had been introduced and are now in her custody.
Sgt. Manrique seemed to be looking for picture evidence or copies of picture evidence. Brower stepped out of the courtroom and came back in. Apparently they were folded up in his back pocket.
The District Attorney’s office says they have at least 187 pieces of physical evidence. But not all may be introduced at trial.
They include various pictures of the scene and neighboring buildings, and pictures of physical evidence as shown where they were initially found. There are also the physical items themselves. For example, we’ve already seen Brower bring out enlarged diagrams and drawings of the scene, a rifle rest, and clothing belonging to Wallace and Tokuoka — including a ballistics vest that Wallace was wearing when he was shot.
As far as the number of pieces of defense evidence? That’s currently unknown. We should find out next week.
And how about the case against Orenthal James Simpson?
I found this USA Today article from 1996 on the subsequent civil trial:
The trial included 488 pieces of evidence and 58 witnesses.
Issues of heresay? …regarding 2009 incident in which “Marvin was beaten up” by officers. This issue to come in with stipulated facts?
Jury told to come back tomorrow. Session to resume at 9 am. Jury out now.
Brower to file something in writing tomorrow, or oral argument on Hedland’s renewed motion for change in venue.
Redirect: Brower asked about chain of custody for evidence.
Judge David George is preparing to adjourn for the day.
Savland: “Yeah, I think he shot Matt and Tony.”
Hedland is pinning down Savland on the shot he says he heard and how to determine the direction. Savland says he might be able to figure it out by an echo.
7 mm rifle casing allegedly found in Marvin’s house.
Savland:”Back in my mind, he was a suspect. I know he was different. He shot guns. Was in the military.”
“No real doubts that he was not capable of doing it.”
Hedland: Was there a time for 15 or 20 minutes that no one was watching the house?
Savland: I don’t know.
“Your running from get-go that John Marvin is your suspect?”
Millan make an assumption about that (and eventually communicated to Savland)? Could have.
Under cross-examination, Savland believes there were likely items initially seized from the house. But the debris likely contributed to other things being overlooked. CS gas residue could still have been potent about a week later.
Brower just brought out evidence of a rifle rest allegedly found in the upper room of the house.
“Move one thing. Oh, man,” recounts Savland. “There’s a shell casing there.”
They went back and amended the search warrant.
Photo being shown of rifle rest inside. Based on two photos already shown to jurors, there also appears to be a lot of debris inside the house.
No movement seen. Marvin’s house was dark.
Week later, asked by then-DA to execute search warrant for a south-facing window from the house. Found 7mm rifle casing inside.
Savland is now pointing where he was on the wet board (shown when Wegrzyn took the stand). He says he arrived nearby in his vehicle, walked down from Second Street. A shot heard fired from backside of Marvin’s house.
AR-15 plus sidearm, Savland kept eye on Marvin’s house from another house in back and about two lots down. There until 6 am when relieved.
Objection (from defense) sustained on Savland already commenting about Marvin apparently barricading himself inside the house. Savland may have jumped the gun on that while this early in Brower’s line of questioning.
Back from break. Trooper Andy Savland, a “brown shirt” wildlife trooper based in Hoonah, has just taken the stand. He’s remembering getting the original call from Ketchikan dispatch.
I just talked briefly with Wegrzyn outside of the courtroom. He looks like he might be a stockbroker – dressed very professionally in a gray suit and gray tie, black shoes. The big giveaway is the military-style hair cut.
His straight answer to my silly question: No, they don’t train recruits to yell like that at the academy. But that’s what you have to do if you’re trying to contact someone 50 yards away.
Wegrzyn says he was the one who arrested Marvin and turned him over to investigators.
He’s being asked about gunshot residue testing. He’s not sure if the Crime Lab is capable of doing that.
Half hour break called.
Wegrzyn says Marvin exhibited symptoms of tear gas exposure when he was arrested.
Wegrzyn’s shout demonstration was the loudest that I’ve ever heard anyone in any courtroom. I think he blew out my audio recorder.
Some speculation about Marvin barricading himself inside the house and then undoing some of the barricades after the first volley of CS.
Wegrzyn is continuing to describe additional observations, attempted contact, a little robot that was sent in and Marvin apparently pushed repeatedly off the front porch.
CS(tear) gas deployed, Marvin eventually came out when it was light out, asked to go prone, handcuffed. No problems during the arrest.
Finally getting some time references under cross-examination by Hedland: Wegrzyn was relieved at 8:30 pm 8/29, slept til 5:30-6 am and went back out at 7, Marvin surrendered about 9:35 am.
Paul Wegrzyn of the Alaska State Troopers has taken the stand. He reports coming down to Hoonah as part of the SERT, Special Emergency Response Team. Wegrzyn used to be part of the Alaska Bureau Investigation. Now he’s with Patrol.
He’s describing a wet board drawing of the team’s map of the area.
He’s reporting seeing Marvin venture out of a lower front window only once after he arrived.
“ALASKA STATE TROOPERS!! COME OUT OF THE BUILDING!!!”
Wegrzyn just startled everyone.
Brower had asked him to demonstrate how he actually tried to contact Marvin.
Marvin evidently retreated.
Owen did not see any lights on inside the house.
Brower is showing him a picture of Mary’s Inn and cold storage. Owen just pointed to where he and Millan stood that night.
Because of the way that Marvin’s house is gabled, there are upstairs windows only on the side.
Owen says that other officers reported an additional gun shot or shots after he came back from a battery run.
After fallen officers were loaded up for the ride to the clinic, James watched Millan’s back, got more batteries, and help keep an eye on the house (where shots believed to have originated). Yes, it was Marvin’s house. He says he didn’t see anyone leave or enter the Mary’s Inn side of the house.
He didn’t see Marvin in the house that night. He thinks he saw reflection from binocular lens in the upstairs window.
Owen James, carver and volunteer EMS, has taken the stand. He reports walking near the Misty Bay Lodge, watched Chief run across the street. Offered his assistance to Millan and Skaflestad.
Arlen Skaflestad stands next to an enlarged drawing of the scene on Front Street.
Back lunch. Skaflestad on the stand. He just testified that when he asked who did this, Matthew Tokuoka mouthed “I don’t know.”
Lunch before redirect.
Various descriptions of Tokuoka’s vehicle have emerged so far. From an unspecified vehicle to a red standard cab pick-up. Brower recently showed a picture that he says was their black Chevy Avalanche.
Skaflestad says that Wolfe told him about Wallace saying that it was John Marvin (who shot them).
Actual words, after Skaflestad reviews a report on the stand, that “John Marvin went crazy or berserk.”
Under questioning by Brower, Skaflestad is describing trying to shoo late-night pedestrians away, moving Wallace’s vehicle to the intersection of Roosevelt and Front, staying on scene (under cover) for five hours to watch Marvin’s house until he was relieved by other officers.
Reports hearing a rifle shot about 1-1:15 am.
He’s remembering talking with Millan about using his pick-up truck to help evacuate the officers from the scene.
He recalled Tony trying to talk to him and then he helped get his ballistic vest off.
Skaflestad is standing up next to the diagram of Front Street. He’s trying to describe (voice cracking, upset) arriving on scene and finding both officers lying in the street.
Former State Trooper and HPD reserve officer Arlen Skaflestad just took the stand. A diagram he drew has been blown-up and put display for the jury to see.
Hedland just put Comolli on the spot about Arlen Skaflestad or his reputation as an honest or dishonest person. Comolli believes that he is honest.
Redirect: Comolli on any discussions with Millan after arriving on Front Street, and whether — in his experience as a former officer — everybody says the same thing about an incident.
Wallace had asked if Tokuoka next to him in the clinic had died, but Comolli refused to explicitly or immediately confirm it. He wanted Wallace to stay strong and keep his spirits up.
Comolli: “Don’t worry about that now.”
Comolli remembers that Wallace said something that indicated he believed that John Marvin had shot him, but Wallace didn’t say that he saw Marvin shoot him.
Hedland is trying to get Comolli to clarify when Millan got to the clinic and whether he talked to his employees earlier.
Judge, jury, counsel back in courtroom.
Comolli back on the stand under cross-examination.
Hedland is asking about the response to the call, who was at the clinic, and what Wallace reportedly said to Wolfe.
“When John Millan showed up, all (Wallace) could say was ‘Wow.’”
Experiment update –
While some of the other local media have been live-blogging the trial through the micro-blog Twitter site, trying to crank out a full-fledged blog is brand-new for us in the KTOO News Department.
The testimony became so fast-paced and so emotional yesterday that it became a challenge to follow along with proceedings, take notes, monitor the sound, grab a picture, and make a blog entry at the same time. All while trying not to sit paralyzed, teary-eyed, and slack-jawed at someone who is re-living a deeply-personal and traumatic event in front of you.
Yes, I noticed a lot of missed details, lots of dropped or misspelled words, and fragments or incomplete sentences (like my usual notes) from yesterday.
All of my English teachers would be appalled.
But at least this format allows for documenting those events, details, and other nuances that would otherwise get dropped in the next newscast’s story.
“A lot of things happened very quickly.”
“Very emotional, very traumatic.” High energy.
In 14×16 clinic room, “Very crowded and a lot of chaos.”
Break called before cross-examination by Hedland.
Comolli: Wallace became less-communicative when he realized that Tokuoka (next to him in the clinic) had just died.
Comolli doesn’t remember any comments Wallace made to Wolfe.
Comolli said he asked Wallace who shot him. “He said John Marvin.”
Comolli just described the former policy of allowing residents to put household garbage in dumpsters around town instead of leaving it in the yard. Bears.
…Comolli was remembering some of the confusion and uncertainty about what had happened when they first responded and arrived on scene.
Later, ambulance crew split up into both vehicles as they went to the clinic. Comolli assisted with treatment of Wallace.
“I got them”
“Both of them”
Comolli remembering the conversation after meeting up with Skaflestad who had both injured officers in the back of the truck.
Comolli heard an “Officer down” call over the radio, left home, jumped into EMS vehicle as it pulled away from ambulance bay with others on-board. Went to liquor store area, no one there. Got away from the scene when they realized it was not safe.
Familiar name: Paul Comolli. Former JPD officer is taking the stand. Lived in Hoonah for six years. Volunteer firefighter, EMT, Inside Passage Electic employee.
Hedland is asking about other statements that Wallace may have made: “Marvin had gone ballistic and started shooting.” Wolfe doesn’t remember hearing that or repeating it to an investigator.
Redirect: Wallace was already at the clinic about 10-15 minutes before Wolfe arrived.
He’s talking about the response, helping with treating the officers at the clinic.
(Slight distraction/interruption in testimony as someone keeps laying on the doorbell for entrance to the second floor Superior Court judges chambers.)
Wolfe remembering some of the conversation from Wallace: “John Marvin shot us. He went wacko on us.”
Now Wolfe is under cross-examination by Hedland. Wolfe says Officer Arlen Skaflestad had asked him to find out what happened from the injured officers.
Community health aide, EMS, and fire chief Wilfred ‘Bill’ Wolfe just took the stand. He’s talking about heading down to Front Steet in Hoonah that night.
Brower is showing to the jury a picture of a bandage over Tokuoka’s upper left chest. Chelmo excused.
IV’s, oxygen administered. Matt had a bruise in lower back. Chelmo stands up in witness box to point to location. He says he could feel the bullet under skin. He reports having experience treating a variety of other gunshot wounds — hunting accidents — before the August 2010 shooting.
Brower is opening evidence bags of both officer’s clothing and spreading them out one-at-a-time on table in front of the witness stand.
Haley Tokuoka and Deborah Green are in the gallery again this morning and are a little upset.
The PA is describing the wounds associated with each piece of clothing.
Wallace’s black tee-shirt: Hole in upper right back.
Tokuoka was at clinic for about 15 minutes before he passed.
EMS transported Wallace out to airport for a possible medevac.
Chelmo was only working in Hoonah for seven weeks before late August 2010.
On cross-examination, he’s telling Hedland that he eventually became a PA because he sawed his own thumb off. He could not work as a dentist anymore.
A slight smile from Chelmo as he described Wallace’s arguing with him and arguing with his mother Deborah Green in the clinic.
He’s continuing to describing those wounds he did and did not see on either officer.
A physician’s assistant, he’s describing the arrival of the pick-up at the clinic at the same time he arrived abtou 11:00 on the night of August 28, 2010.
The pickup apparently just had arrived from the shooting scene on Front Street and officers Matthew Tokuoka and Anthony Wallace were in the back.
He’s outlining the procedure for assessing injuries. Clinic doesn’t have the capability to handle trauma of that magnitude. Matt was initially responsive, but his condition rapidly deteroriated.
Jeffrey Todd Chelmo has taken the stand.
No one raised their hands. A few shook their heads in response to watching the TV news.
Jury back in courtroom. Inquiry about TV footage…
Brief break. We’re waiting for Brower to come back down after changing his shoes. He apparently was wearing something more suitable for hiking Herbert Glacier Trail instead of the courtroom.
Judge David George is now speaking from the bench to media in back of the courtroom about a defendant’s constitutional protections being violated with showing of such pictures.
He plans to ask jurors if they saw any of the footage.
Judge, counsel, defendant back in at 9:05. Jury not in yet. Some discussion about prosecution witnesses, motion to reconsider change of venue with new information, and some discussion about KTUU airing footage that show the defendant in leg shackles.