Yakutat homicide trial delayed again

Robert Kowalski arrives for a hearing at the Dimond Court Building. File photo by Matt Miller/KTOO News

A jury trial that was scheduled to start next week for a man accused of killing his girlfriend at a Yakutat lodge over 17 years ago has been postponed again.

Juneau Superior Court Judge Louis Menendez scheduled the three-week trial to start March 17, 2014 after considering an expedited request from public defender Eric Hedland to continue or postpone next week’s proceedings.

Robert Kowalski is accused of murder in the death of Sandra Perry at the Glacier Bear Lodge in 1996.

Hedland, who unsuccessfully moved to dismiss the indictment against Kowalski, indicated in court on Monday that he may have to reconsider his trial strategy.

I think that the court’s order denying the motion to dismiss the indictment — not just on its face, but what I would interpret as the breadth of the court’s order regarding other evidentiary issues that are going to come up prior to trial — I think affects things substantially. I respectfully disagree with the court that they’ll be a need to try two cases. I think that there will be.”

Kowalski is already serving a 40-year prison sentence for the death of another woman in Montana.

Hedland also referred to the voluminous amount of evidence in the case which he has not had time to completely review. Some of the evidence is still trickling in as part of the discovery process.

Special prosecutor James Fayette agreed to postponing the trial and said that a relative of Perry would not have any objections.

His position has consistently been that he understands that there will be delays and he desires that the case be handled prudently and correctly, even if that implicates some delays.

Judge Menendez said this would very likely be the last instance that the case would be moved.

I’m planning to try this case on March 17th for three weeks. This case has been scheduled for six times. This is the seventh time that it has been scheduled. I’m hearing from both of the parties that you’ll be ready for trial on the seventeenth of March.”

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