The defense and prosecution have both rested their case in the trial of John Marvin, Jr. who is accused of causing the deaths of Hoonah police officers Matthew Tokuoka and Sgt. Anthony Wallace on August 28, 2010. Closing arguments are planned for Thursday afternoon. District Attorney Dave Brower wrapped up with presentation of evidence and witnesses on Wednesday. Public defender Eric Hedland moved for a judgement of acquittal and a change of venue. But both motions were denied by Sitka Superior Court Judge David George. He’s presiding over the trial that’s being held at Juneau’s Dimond Courthouse.
- High schoolers tackled a serious topic at this year's annual student government conference: gun violence at school. They listened to a presentation from an organization called Sandy Hook Promise learned about their peers efforts to prevent gun violence on campus.
- Visitors to military bases who don’t have compliant IDs will have to be accompanied by military personnel, which the leaders say will be impractical.
- Southeast Alaska’s independent ferry system is working its way out of a ridership slump. Numbers are up on the Hollis-to-Ketchikan route.
- For most of the state, the entire month of March has been clear and cold.
The usual admonition is about not watching TV, listening to radio, reading papers or magazines, or going on line tonight.
The feeding comment was in regards to the Court System providing lunch during deliberations.
Jury out for the night now. Back at 9 am to deliberate.
And now we feed you.
Jury back in.
Judge George sends them back to pick a foreman, and decide whether they want to continue deliberating tonight or return tomorrow at 9 am.
With jury out, he’s complimenting both attorneys for their preparedness, civility and working together.
…A caution about allowed dying declaration, and reminders about the defendant’s right to not testify and the burden that’s carried by the prosecution.
Go back and select a foreman.
Now the jury instructions from Judge George.
Intent and cause for murder in the first degree, and elements for murder in the second degree and manslaughter (They’re long and a little complicated. Judge George says the jury will get hard copies).
Brower ends his rebuttal after 11 minutes.
Time to pick #13.
In-court clerk shakes box, opens it, and pulls out a name.
“Thank you for your service, sir.”
“How come no one else got shot?”
Greene, Millan, Skaflestad were all in the line of fire, too. They didn’t get shot.
It’s not unreasonable to lose track or not be able to find the other three cartridges after two nights and a day.
Hedland sits down.
Rebuttal by Brower.
“All bets are off” as a bullet goes astray in the body after it hits clothing like the back of Wallace’s ballistics vest.
“We know the scene was completely compromised” No checking for blood on the street for five days. Distance wasn’t quite as long as was implied.
Dusty interior of south bedroom window wall, things moved inside are among discrepancies noted Hedland.
“Let me just tell you one quick story, and I’ll get out of your hair.”
Tells story of man looking for keys under street light.
Hedland gives jury heads-up about the long, multi-layered jury instructions.
“Is it impossible, implausible that someone else shot these officers?”
Hedland: “When I’m done here, I don’t ever get to talk again.”
He’s was referring to sometimes repeating himself while making his last pitch to a jury.
“…Forget Mr Marvin is in the courtroom.”
Hedland: Marvin doesn’t participate in trial, reads random items at defense table.
It presents challenges “certainly for me.”
“There are other houses. There are other homes with windows owned by people with guns.”
Hedland believes that the trajectory of bullet, alleged origin at Marvin’s house, and path of bullet through Wallace’s body (which he believes was standing straight up) doesn’t match up.
“It’s no reason to convict Mr. Marvin because he’s alleged to be a good shot.”
Hedland is focusing on the DNA found on the gun. Well, of course, he essentially says. It was *his* gun.
Hedland: And what about the other three cartridges? Only one cartridge was allegedly fired from Marvin’s house. But there were four shots fired.
Now, the copper sighting tube and the grazed bumper highlighted as a very imprecise exercise.
Haley Tokuoka did not see John Marvin shoot the rifle. She only saw him making the racket in the house.
“Why the attention on Marvin?”
Because he fit the profile. Aloof, weird, claims of Russian royal immunity, and he lived right there. But no one saw him actually fire the rifle.
The State’s case is circumstantial.
Theory of suspect’s identity came from Chief John Millan and reserve officer Arlen Skaflestad, not Wallace or Tokuoka.
Is it really plausible?
Hedland: Prosecution contends that Marvin had a ‘bone to pick’ after an arrest about year earlier.
Why (shoot the officers on) this particular day?
Why did the bullet that went through Wallace’s back go *up* from right back to front left?
Why no spent casings?
Why no gunpowder in the bore?
Judge and jury back.
PD Eric Hedland’s turn.
There was ‘intent to kill Wallace, and he did kill him.’
‘…and in fact, he did kill Tokuoka…’
‘Ladies and gentleman of the jury, I ask you to find John Marvin guilty of murder in the first degree.’
Ten minute break called before defense’s closing argument.
Seal hunting example pulled into closing arguments. Precision required, Mr. Marvin used to hunt seal.
Brower now referring to aim and point of impact test firings by state crime lab. Close grouping of bullets on target (see yesterday’s blog).
Brower holds up rifle again: “They type of gun that is used for hunting large game, Mr. Marvin used to kill two people.”
Shell casing, identified as being ejected from Browning, shown to jury.
“The damage that these things do is incalculable.”
More bullet fragments (those not identified as being from Browning BAR) now being shown to jury.
Debbie Greene and Haley Tokuoka sitting side-by-side in front row of courtroom gallery, upset, holding each other’s hand.
Photographs of Front Street in Hoonah that we have seen earlier in the trial are now being projected on a screen for the jury again.
Brower is now retelling story about Haley Tokuoka nervous about banging in Marvin’s house, Wallace and mother pulling up behind, meeting, and Wallace playing with Tokuoka kids as he was shot.
Brower now recapping some of the testimony and Marvin’s arrest in 2009… Coming back as a changed man(?)
Brower: Marvin harbored a resentment against Wallace and Tokuoka.
Brower: We don’t know what happened during the arrest. But we do know that he killed the officers in cold blood.
Apparent concession in that there may have been a period of time that someone wasn’t constantly watching the house at the beginning.
‘Statewide officer response…Troopers and JPD officers arrive in Hoonah.
‘Robot deployment, Marvin observed at the back of the house, and tear gas. Marvin finally comes out. Multiple firearms found inside.’
Brower brings out the alleged murder weapon from a box in the back of the courtroom.
Bullet found in Tokuoka was fired from the Browning BAR 7mm.
Spent bullet found on Front Street a few days later also determined as fired from rifle.
Fragments found in Wallace’s chest also fired from weapon.
Tokuoka’s clothing also being displayed for the jury again.
Brower is retelling the story of Matthew Tokuoka going to the aid of his fellow officer, himself getting shot. Chief going to the scene, not realizing that two-thirds of his police force was dying.
Brower has not pulled out Wallace’s clothing, each with a ‘defect’ — bullet holes.
District Attorney Dave Brower: “Going to close out this case the way it started.”
Police radio traffic being played again.
Deborah Greene, mother of Anthony Wallace and one of the voices on the radio with multiple “Officer down!” calls, is upset.
“He’s still firing!”
“He’s fired again!”
Jurors taking their seats.
Judge George addressing attorneys: “You all set up?”
“Let’s bring in the jury.”
“Ready for the jury?”
Judge called attorneys to the bench again.
As everyone filed into the courtroom, investigator was fiddling with the audio for the laptop. Heard a snippet of the police radio traffic again. It will likely be part of DA Dave Brower’s closing arguments.
Five JPD uniforms plus a plainclothes now in courtroom. That’s in addition to the same JS officers who’ve been working as John Marvin’s escort from Lemon Creek Correctional Center for the last two weeks.
Jury still not brought in. More tweaking of jury instructions.
Judge David George in.
Jury clerk from downstairs has brought up ‘The Box.’ The name (on a paper slip) of one of the thirteen jurors will drawn just before deliberations. After ten days at this courthouse, person will be excused as an alternate just before deliberations.
Nearly full courtroom – only a few empty seats. At least four JPD officers also in attendance.
Veronica Dalton, cousin of John Marvin, describes boarding up his house and looking for personal items inside.
A few spectators gathering on the mezzanine/second floor lobby for closing arguments. Courtroom closed for arrangement of furniture.
Harlena Warford points out various Front Street locations in pictures provided by public defender Eric Hedland.
Witness for the defense, former Chief of Police Jeff Hankla, testifies on Friday (Those are audio-assist headphones he’s wearing to hear everything in court).
John Marvin today looking down at court papers or his attorney’s notes.
I just realized that I haven’t posted any pictures today. Here’s one from the other day. It’s snapshot of a projected picture showing the south side of John Marvin’s house and the upper window from where he allegedly shot the officers.
Jury still out for lunch,
Judge, attorneys, defendant back in the courtroom over jury instructions. Judge George, for example, wondered aloud about a potential cascading sequence of lesser charges. If, for example, the jury hangs or cannot reach an unanimous verdict on murder in the first degree, do then they go to murder 2, then manslaughter?
Recess. Back again in about an hour.
Members of the media regularly attending the trial (aside from myself) have included the cops and courts reporter from the newspaper and a reporter from the commercial radio operation in town. As far as I recall, the commercial radio outfit has never before had a person covering a trial or court proceeding. That includes when I worked for the various stations years ago. Kudos to them.
The newspaper’s photographer comes back on regular basis to grab a picture of a witness or key portion of the trial. The regional correspondent for the Associated Press has returned today after being absent for most of the trial. She was only here for opening arguments and initial presentation of evidence. The videographer at the local NBC affiliate who sometimes shoots for the mothership in Anchorage apparently has not been dispatched to grab more footage since opening arguments. It wasn’t too long ago that they had devoted a reporter/videographer crew to completely cover the first Rachelle Waterman trial. With the addition of a crew from Court TV camped out in a spare courtroom, that may have been one of the few times that the Dimond Courthouse has ever came close to hosting a “media circus.”
Back in June, I had a chance to meet and talk with Linda Deutsch who is still active after nearly a half-century working for the Associated Press. She has pretty much set the bar (bad pun) for trial and court reporting. She’s covered all the high-profile trials, including those of Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan, Patty Hearst, John De Lorean, O.J. Simpson, William Kennedy Smith, the Menendez brothers, and the four police officers accused in the Rodney King beating. She even came up to Alaska for the Joseph Hazelwood trial.
I wish I had taken notes when she allowed me to briefly pick her brain. I’ve already forgotten some of her stories and advice. But one of the things that I vividly remember was her reminder to stick with a trial all the way through. No lazy, half-measures and no parachuting in-and-out on certain days.
It’s a little like the deliberate and methodical presentation of evidence to the jury. The whole story cannot be told with just the opening and ending paragraph.
Jury out for break.
Hedland: no more defense witnesses planned.
Judge David George is addressing John Marvin directly about possibly testifying.
“I will remain silent.”
“No” to question about being coerced into making that decision.
“It is” to question about decision made of his own free will.
Defense intends to rest.
No rebuttal evidence from prosecution.
Sounds like closing arguments are planned for 3 pm.
Jury coming back.
Formally from Hedland in front of jury: “Your honor, the defense rests.”
Jury out at about 11:50.
More discussion about jury instructions. Return at 1 pm to continue on more instructions.
Debbie Greene, mother of Anthony Wallace, was just called to the stand briefly about placement of dumpsters on Front Steet.
Harlena Warford just took the stand. She’s an aunt of John Marvin. She describes as a neat and organized person, and skilled in various subsistence activities. She’s describing the views of Front Street around Marvin’s house, selling ointments and fry bread nearby.
Under cross-examination, Brower just got her to explain about seal hunting (I’m not sure about the relevance to the case, but it’s fun to listen to).
She just demonstrated a seal call! (It almost sounds like my old cat with a hairball) Everybody in the courtroom laughs.
Dalton just explained that she moved the computers away from the south side window so that Savland could work to remove it. A cartridge — or ‘case’ as she described it — fell down and Savland told her to stop what she was doing. He apparently left to make another phone call and apply for a new search warrant.
“Well, that’s pretty good! Excuse me, judge; That’s an objection!”
That was Brower after the Hedland leads Dalton through a set of photographs of the Marvin house interior and a view through the south side upper window. Dalton doesn’t quite remember or doesn’t have enough context about what she’s seeing. Hedland had to start over with the photographs.
She can’t understand why the whole south side window had to be removed.
Dalton is cousin of John Marvin. In court voluntarily, not under subpoena.
She got help to board up Marvin’s home. She’s trying to remember when… before or after search warrants were executed?
She’s describing going up to south side room on second floor.
“How’s the jury doing? You need a break? OK?” Judge George to panel.
Delay anyway, as next witness Veronica Dalton is still in the restroom.
The August 2009 incident in which Tokuoka and Wallace responded to a trespass complaint is important to both the prosecution and the defense’s case. But for different reasons.
Marvin struggled with officers and they used a taser to subdue him. It also appears (by the pictures just shown to the jury) that Marvin allegedly suffered injuries in that scuffle with Tokuoka and Wallace. Hankla just testified that he arrived as Marvin was being cuffed.
The theme that is emerging from the prosecution’s case is that August 2010 shooting may been retaliation for the August 2009 arrest.
The defense is using an opposite argument. Hedland believes that Hoonah officers had already *assumed* that Marvin was the shooter in August 2010 because of the 2009 incident.
Hankla arrived just as Tokuoka and Wallace were cuffing him.
Hedland has now asked him to look at some photographs.
At least one photo is apparently of Marvin laying on the ground.
Another is an unidentified torso. More of Marvin…
Hankla is not providing specific observations about each exhibit or picture that is useful for the court record. He’s also a little hard-of-hearing and wearing an audio-assist headset. Hedland is trying to keep him on track and keeping a good humor (so far) despite the likely frustration.
…”Marvin laying on the ground”…”right arm” …”elbow”…”Marvin lying in jail house cell”…”his face injured and same sort of injuries on the right arm that we spoke of”…”face swollen, lips puffered up”… “hand…same injuries…look like cigarette burns, not necessarily recent”…
Hedland shows pictures of injured Marvin to jury.
Jeff Hankla, former officer and chief of police in Hoonah, just took the stand.
Hankla says he knows John Marvin when he got a call about his supposed erratic behavior. August 2009 incident being described now…
Lisa Wolfe, EMS and certified health practitioner in Hoonah, has taken the stand for the defense. Bill Wolfe is former spouse, Arlen Skaflestad is son-in-law.
She went to clinic to help, called for medevacs, had to leave ER because it was so noisy sometimes.
She did not hear either officer say who shot them.
Tokuoka did not verbally say anything when asked.
She remembers him shaking his head side-to-side, but don’t remember him saying specifically “I don’t know”.
Hedland just pointed out that Wolfe is being compelled to testify by subpeona. Same for Karen Mills yesterday.
Overheard: “It’s the attorney yo-yo! One in and one out.”
That was the in-court clerk referring to the traffic back-and-forth in the courtroom just before reconvening.
Jury instructions are done for now. Hedland says the rest of his defense will be done before noon. No rebuttal from prosecution. Long lunch break for jurors and then closing arguments(?). Judge George is trying to avoid wasting half of a day for the jury.
Hedland wants at least another 15 minutes to track down some witnesses coming into town.
Judge George: “That’s fine. We haven’t started on time yet.” Everybody chuckles.
In anticipation of possibly bringing up such evidence later, Judge George decides to go ahead and review proposed jury pattern instructions and underlying elements for diminished capacity. Hedland seems to have second thoughts and proposes getting back to it later (in a few hours). But George plows ahead anyway.
Judge George: “Are we there yet? Is this instruction appropriate based on the evidence that we have at this time?”
Judge George refers to insanity and diminished capacity notices being filed.
Hedland: “I certainly haven’t said yet that Marvin has an insanity defense that negates intent.”
Judge in at 8:52. Pattern instructions for manslaughter, and guilty-but-mentally ill are being discussed.
It’s 8:35 and the jury and Judge David George are absent. He wanted to finish drafting jury instructions at 8:15 this morning.
It may be dry and tedious for awhile. Still unclear at this point is whether public defender Eric Hedland has any more witnesses to put on the stand before moving to closing arguments.
Latest from in-court clerk: Judge George is still on the telephone for a hearing in Sitka. That’s why he hasn’t yet shown up in the courtroom as promised.
The Judicial Services officers escorting John Marvin back-and-forth from the courthouse holding cell to the courtroom have usually waited for the courtroom to clear out during each break in the trial. They didn’t want observers and the media to watch as he’s shackled and unshackled to the defendant’s table in the courtroom.
Late yesterday afternoon and this morning, for whatever reason, they broke from that practice. Marvin has been brought in and out with other people present in the courtroom.
Attorneys and some members of the media are here. Victims’ relatives are not. Maybe they’ve been warned that this will be deadly dull.