Live Blog: Hoonah homicide trial day 1

John Marvin, Jr. (right) and Grace Lee from the Public Defender’s office (center) both listen as District Attorney Dave Brower (left foreground) makes a point during a competency hearing in January. File photo by Matt Miller/KTOO News

John Marvin, Jr., 47, stands trial for the August 28, 2010 deaths of Hoonah police officers Matt Tokuoka and Tony Wallace. After allegedly shooting both officers, other officers who responded to the scene said that Marvin engaged in a standoff with them for nearly a day before he surrendered.

Public defender Eric Hedland is representing Marvin while District Attorney Dave Brower is prosecuting the case.

Sitka Superior Court Judge David George is presiding over the ten-day trial that is being held at the Dimond Courthouse in Juneau.

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.


KTOO News has covered this case extensively from the very beginning. Here is a sampling of some of our previous stories:

Monday Newscast (update August 30, 2010)

Police rally around Hoonah

Police flock to Hoonah for officers’ memorial

Hoonah honors slain officers

Close-knit Hoonah on the road to recovery

Competency evaluation could delay trial in Hoonah shooting case

New date for Hoonah case

Accused Hoonah shooter declared incompetent to stand trial

Marvin declared competent to stand trial

Accused shooter’s mental competency questioned

Hoonah double homicide trial to start Monday


Recent headlines

Matt Miller October 22, 20126:45 pm

Thirtieth prospective juror that has been interviewed is an ‘H’. Judge George says we’re done for the day.

Matt Miller October 22, 20126:30 pm

District Attorney Dave Brower continues hinting — through his questions to prospective jurors — that some of the earlier publicized aspects of the shooting in Hoonah may not be brought up at trial. Public defender Eric Hedland uses the same method to suggest that the original accounts or perceptions of the incident may not have been accurate. He’s voiced concerns that too many people are coming in to the case with pre-conceived notions about his client and they would be unable to set aside those ideas to come up with an objective verdict based only on the evidence.

Matt Miller October 22, 20125:26 pm

Prospective jurors have been interviewed in alphabetical order today with Judge George leading the questioning on media coverage. Attorneys are now up to the E’s in the first group.

Matt Miller October 22, 20124:34 pm

Several times today, both the defense and prosecution have held up the local media as examples of passing on incomplete information or a subjective interpretation shortly after an event. That’s okay. This reporter doesn’t take it too personally. The attorneys in this case are just trying to make sure that jurors issue a verdict on the evidence presented at trial instead of any preconceived notions.

Matt Miller October 22, 20123:16 pm

Some of the potential jurors asked to come back Wednesday morning include a single-mother with two young children in daycare or school, a state employee whose boyfriend is an uncle to a state trooper who is also witness in the case, a man suffering from back pain (and who has to stand up if he’s not medicated), another man who has personal travel plans for this weekend, and an over three-decade Juneau resident who has been called for jury service many times, but who has never been selected.

Matt Miller October 22, 20122:54 pm

Alaska court rules prohibit photographing jurors unless it’s during the return of a verdict. Although not specified in the latest revision of the rules, jurors are usually not identified by the media until after the trial when they might be interviewed about the case. That’s so a jury can hear the evidence and objectively reach a verdict without outside pressure or fear of retaliation.

Matt Miller October 22, 20122:48 pm

Each potential juror is being questioned individually (away from the rest of the jury pool) about media coverage and what they heard about the case from co-workers and friends. At least this way, there’s little risk of tainting the rest of the jury pool with second-hand accounts or perceptions of the case. As judges and attorneys usually say, “That’s a bell that can never be unrung.”

Matt Miller October 22, 20122:41 pm

Questioning of twelfth potential juror is now underway. Nine more people still to go in this group. Then there’s the second group now arriving at the courthouse. Judge George seems to be a very congenial and patient trial manager. But I get the sense that he’d probably like to see this go much faster.

Matt Miller October 22, 20121:58 pm

Prosecution is asking potential jurors about consideration of circumstantial evidence while defense has been asking about subjective interpretations of events.

Matt Miller October 22, 20121:12 pm

Judge George just called for a very welcome lunch/bathroom break. Half-hour only.

Matt Miller October 22, 201212:44 pm

Questioning of another juror lasted 28 minutes. That was largely due to Hedland’s extended questioning of the woman’s potential for being fair and objective. Judge George signaled his intention to get through the first group before taking a break for lunch.

Matt Miller October 22, 201212:33 pm

John Marvin is clean shaven today, but he’s still wearing his hair long. He’s alternating between flipping through the statute book and looking up at potential jurors as they are questioned by Hedland and Brower.

Matt Miller October 22, 201212:20 pm

Questioning of another juror stretched out for twenty long minutes. By my own sloppy math, it’ll be ten days at that rate before they get through the entire jury pool.

Matt Miller October 22, 201211:45 am

Federal officer just excused for cause. He’s already familiar with the case and is acquainted with many of the local and state officers who were involved in it.

Matt Miller October 22, 201211:41 am

Defense attorney Eric Hedland asked potential juror about the presumption of innocence and members of grand juries becoming familiar with prosecutors in the DA’s office. Potential juror told to come back Wednesday morning and not read or listen to news accounts about the trial.

Matt Miller October 22, 201211:31 am

First prospective juror now being questioned about hearing or seeing media accounts of the incident in Hoonah, and if he recognized any of the people on the witness list. Another man already excused for cause since he’s part of two other ongoing cases.

Matt Miller October 22, 201211:28 am

Courtroom C is actually a mirror-image of Courtroom D across the hall. But the prosecution usually sits on the right and defense on the left in both courtrooms. Judge George asked Dave Brower to move his stuff to the table closest to the jury since he has the burden of proof.

Matt Miller October 22, 201211:22 am

Court staff and Judicial Services officers just finished duct taping gray curtains to both of the attorneys tables. Defense table has been turned almost adjacent to the witness box and it’s now facing the jury box across the room. Defendant John Marvin, Jr. is already seated at the defense table with what appears to be a statute book or court rule book opened in front of him. A JS officer just took off Marvin’s handcuffs. Hedland asked him if he wanted a pen and paper. Marvin said not right away.

Matt Miller October 22, 201211:00 am

It’s not really a jury selection process, but more of a juror elimination process. Prospective jurors are usually issued a questionnaire and must specify if they know any of the participants in the case such as the defendant, the attorneys, or witnesses. Both the defense attorney and prosecution will then ask questions of each prospective juror to determine how much they know about the case or if they have a preconceived opinion about the participants. Both the defense and prosecution will each have eleven peremptory challenges. They can excuse each prospective juror and do not have to specify a reason. Each side also can excuse an unlimited number of people for cause, such as if a potential juror may harbor a potential prejudice or bias against someone in the case.

Matt Miller October 22, 201210:13 am

Prospective jurors are now being split up into four different groups in Courtroom A at the Dimond Courthouse. Shortly, they’ll come up to Courtroom C for individual voir dire or questioning. Then each group will go through another general voir dire before the full jury, likely 14 people, is finally seated. Courtroom C is the smallest of the two Superior Court courtrooms on the second floor. That could be one reason why Judge George has specified such a routine. There simply is not enough room in Courtroom C to squeeze in even a quarter of those who showed up today.

Matt Miller October 22, 20129:58 am

Defendant John Marvin appeared in court this morning wearing a blue-collared sweater, khaki or tan pants, and black shoes. He was not wearing the usual red prison clothing provided by LCCC. He was still accompanied by two Judicial Services officers, wore handcuffs and leg shackles that were partially hidden by his pantlegs. Last week, public defender Eric Hedland asked for a curtain to be draped around both of the attorneys tables so that prospective jurors would not be prejudiced by the appearance of the hardware.

Matt Miller October 22, 20129:48 am

Judge George last week suggested that he’d like to wrap up this trial within two-weeks or ten trial days because he has other committments. He floated the idea of a somewhat-rare Saturday session if trial proceedings bog down at the end of this week.

Matt Miller October 22, 20129:41 am

Today’s session convened at a little after 8:30 am. Superior Court Judge David George discussed the jury selection process with public defender Eric Hedland and District Attorney Dave Brower. Prospective jurors, meanwhile, went through the standard orientation in the third floor jury room. About 255 potential jurors were notified to report in today. Those who showed up are being split up into four groups and the plan calls for jurors to be questioned individually.