A long-running civil suit stemming from a Juneau homicide is underway again.
The estate of Simone Kim filed suit against Rayco Sales owner Ray Coxe, after a rifle taken from his store was used to kill Kim in August 2006. Jason Coday was later convicted for the murder of Kim behind Juneau’s Fred Meyer store.
Just a few days before the shooting, Coday walked out of Rayco Sales with the gun after leaving $200 on the counter. Coday reportedly had at least 18 run-ins with the law in Ketchikan, Washington state, and Nevada before he arrived in Juneau.
Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg threw out the civil case and determined that the U.S. Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), passed by Congress in 2005, prevented Coxe for being held liable for Kim’s murder.
The Alaska Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of PLCAA, which shields gun manufacturers and sellers from criminal liability. But justices said the lower court should have considered expert witness affidavits that were submitted by Kim’s attorney.
On April 30, Judge Pallenberg denied summary judgment for Coxe, essentially reversing his earlier order.
Coxe’s attorney, Tony Sholty, said the judge determined the affidavits submitted by the Kim estate were factual issues that must be considered by a jury.
“The evidence was very thin,” Sholty said. “Although (Judge Pallenberg) thought that it would be difficult for a jury to make the leap from what the experts said to Mr. Coxe having sold the rifle to Jason Coday, he thought it would be for the jury to decide that rather than him.”
Mark Choate, attorney for the Kim estate, was unavailable for comment.
Attorneys from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence acted as plaintiff’s co-counsel in the case. In a printed statement, the Center’s Jonathon Lowy said the “Kims finally have their chance to present their case before a jury to decide whether it was reasonable for this gun dealer to enable Simone’s killer to obtain a deadly weapon.”
The next hearing in the case is set for May 28, 2014.
Video of oral arguments before the Alaska Supreme Court on Feb. 28, 2012:
- The management slate won this year’s Sealaska board election. Three incumbents and a newcomer who ran with them beat out eight independent candidates.
- A local archaeologist says there may be the remains of a historic Alutiiq fish trap on the north end of Kodiak Island. Those types of man-made formations are rare to discover in the region, he said.
- Senate Republicans have tweaked their Obamacare repeal bill in hopes of keeping more healthy customers in the insurance market. Customers who fail to maintain coverage could be temporarily locked out.