Prosecution rests, defense moves for judgment of acquittal in Marvin case

By November 1, 2012Crime & Courts

Wednesday’s testimony in the John Marvin, Jr. homicide trial started with Robert Shem, forensic firearm and tool mark examiner from the Alaska State Crime Laboratory, returning to the stand to describe further rifling characteristics and cartridge marking.

Marvin is accused of shooting and killing Hoonah Police Officer Matthew Tokuoka and Sargent Anthony Wallace on August 28, 2010.

After the prosecution rested its case on Wednesday, public defender Eric Hedland made a motion for judgment of acquittal and argued that the state did not provide enough evidence for a reasonable juror to find Marvin guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The things that the state did not prove, in my estimation, certainly that Mr. Marvin did not make any admissions that he was in fact the person who caused the death and he was not witnessed by anybody. I would argue that there were no witnesses who came forward and said they saw Mr. Marvin shoot the officers.”

District Attorney Dave Brower says there was plenty of evidence linking the gun to the shootings and Marvin to the gun inside the house.

So, based on all of that, I think that the jury can find beyond a reasonable doubt. John Marvin, who was in that house with that gun, because the gun was found in the house after John Marvin left, they can find beyond reasonable doubt that John Marvin pulled the trigger of the 7 millimeter, shooting both officers Tokuoka and Wallace.”

In the end, Sitka Superior Court Judge David Judge said the evidence met the test of sufficiency, and denied the motion.

I can only grant a judgment of acquittal if the court finds that the evidence which has been presented to the jury would not allow a reasonable juror to find in favor of the state. Stated another way, if jurors could differ as to guilty or not guilty, (then) the motion must be denied.”

Hedland followed up with a renewed motion to change the venue or location of the trial based on pre-trial publicity. That was also denied by Judge George.

Then, the first round of defense witnesses included wife Haley Tokuoka and Alaska State Trooper Sargent Michelyn Manrique being recalled to the stand over old issues.

Karen Mills, dispatcher at the Hoonah Police Department, testified to Tokuoka and Wallace laughing while playing back the field recording of Marvin’s arrest so that he could hear it in the nearby cell.

I didn’t think it was appropriate. And, I know from having worked at the Police Department that this particular cell that Mr. Marvin was in, you can hear, the walls are thin and you can hear what’s going on. I didn’t think it was appropriate that they needed to be laughing over the incident. I didn’t think it was comical.”

Steve Warford testified to being Marvin’s uncle by marriage. He said they used to have Marvin over for dinner, go hunting together. But then Marvin started becoming more reclusive, erratic, and did not keep up with his hygiene and nutrition.

I’m unfortunately going to break my promise. I promised that I wouldn’t say anything about it. But he did try to kill himself. He said that he was just going to go swimming. He later told me. This was after the fact after I found out.”

Warford says Marvin deteriorated following his August 2009 arrest and just before the shooting.

Six to nine months is where his interest in things like hunting and computers started dissipating. Two to three months is where things really started going goofy. The guy that I used to know, he wasn’t home no more.”

Toward the end of the day, Hedland proposed submitting evidence of an alternative suspect based on the premise that no one actually saw John Marvin fire the weapon. He suggested that anyone could have left the house without being watched in the hours immediately after the shooting.

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