Convicted Hoonah murderer wants new trial

The Hoonah man who was convicted of the murder of two police officers wants a new trial on whether one of the officers was actually performing his official duties. A ruling could determine whether as much as 79-years is cut from his potential sentence.

A jury returned with guilty verdicts against John N. Marvin, Jr. on November 3rd. They also issued findings of fact on whether Sargent Anthony Wallace and Officer Matthew Tokuoka were clearly identifiable police officers. Wallace was on duty and in uniform during the August 28, 2010 shooting, but Tokuoka had not yet reported for duty that night and was not yet in uniform.

Marvin could be sentenced to anywhere from 20- to 99-years for Tokuoka’s murder, but he’ll likely serve a full 99-years for shooting Wallace because the sentence for a first degree murder of a peace officer is defined in statute.

Marvin’s attorney, public defender Eric Hedland, essentially wrote in a motion filed on Nov. 5th that Wallace’s socializing with the Tokuoka family was not part of his official duties. Hedland has called for a new trial to make that determination. It’s unclear, though, if it would be another jury trial or a bench trial in which only the judge hears the case and issues a ruling.

Hedland describes Wallace driving a patrol vehicle and pulling up behind the Tokuoka vehicle on Front Street in Hoonah as “a sham traffic stop.” Hedland also refers to a civil lawsuit filed by Haley Tokuoka against the City of Hoonah that Wallace shined his flashlight at Marvin’s house for “no reason,” instead of an official reason like investigating a potential crime. According to testimony during the trial, Tokuoka may have been worried that Wallace’s flashlight would antagonize Marvin. It was perhaps minutes later that Marvin fired a rifle from the second story window of his home.

District Attorney Dave Brower opposes a new trial, writing that Wallace was in the midst of performing his official duties and a jury has already made that determination beyond a reasonable doubt. In his response filed Nov. 7th, Brower refers to an example of a beat cop who might stop to chat with a store owner for a few minutes.

No indication yet from Superior Court Judge David George on whether the motion for another trial would be granted.

Meanwhile, no hearings have been scheduled yet in Haley Tokuoka’s civil lawsuit against the City of Hoonah. It was filed August 17, 2012, within two-weeks of the two-year anniversary of the shooting. Tokouka says Wallace was allegedly negligent in breaching his duty of care to the Tokuoka family. She also alleges negligent training and supervision, negligent infliction of emotional stress, loss of consortium (essentially the loss of companionship and support), and breach of contract because of benefits like life insurance that allegedly were not provided. Juneau attorney Mark Choate is seeking general damages in excess of $100,000 and special damages for medical and burial expenses, loss of Tokuoka’s earnings, interest, and attorneys’ fees.

According to electronic court records, the City of Hoonah has not yet responded to the suit and has not yet retained an attorney for the case.