The murder trial of Leroy B. Dick Jr., 44, concluded Tuesday evening when the jury delivered the verdict.
“We, the jury, find the defendant, Leroy Dick Jr., guilty of murder in the first degree as charged,” read the foreman.
The nine men and three women notified the judge of their unanimous decision at 4:37 p.m. Tuesday, just an hour and a half after going into deliberations. The verdict was read a little after 5 p.m.
VPSO Thomas Madole’s widow Luan reached for a tissue as the judge finished polling each juror individually. Madole’s family was flanked by four law enforcement officers in the courtroom Tuesday evening.
Leroy Dick Jr. shot and killed Officer Madole in Manokotak on March 19, 2013. Dick admitted to murdering Madole in at least six taped confessions, including one with KDLG News following his arraignment on March 20, 2013.
The trial began on Monday, November 3. It took four days to pick 13 jurors, and opening statements were made by the prosecution and defense on Friday, November 7. State prosecutor Gregg Olson called nine witnesses and published dozens of pieces of evidence as he meticulously laid out the events of March 19 for the jury.
State trooper Victor Aye, who works as a support trooper with VPSOs around the state, was with Madole the day of the murder. He had flown back to Dillingham only moments before the shooting. When he was shown a picture of he and Tom Madole surrounded by children at Manokotak Elementary School from that morning, the 20+ year veteran of the force broke into tears on the stand.
“I’m sorry,” he said, as he asked for a moment before continuing.
A key piece of evidence was introduced Monday, when Olson called trooper investigator Nasruk Nay as a witness. Nay had taken custody of Dick when the plane transporting him from Manokotak landed in Dillingham after the murder. During an interview at about 9 p.m. that night at the Dillingham jail, the following exchange took place:
NAY: “First of all, what kind of a firearm was it that you used?”
DICK: “A .223, a mini-14.”
NAY: “A mini-14, ok. And where did you get that from?”
DICK: “In the gun cabinet.”
NAY: “Was the gun cabinet locked?”
NAY: “Ok, so you had to unlock the gun cabinet to get the rifle?”
NAY: “Was the rifle loaded?”
DICK: “I loaded it earlier cause they was gonna call the cops, you know, to come around me to bother me. I didn’t like it.”
NAY: “So you loaded your gun earlier?”
DICK: “Yeah after my mom took off, probably to go to the clinic.”
NAY: “And that was because you knew the cops were going to be coming?”
DICK: “Yeah cause she said she was gonna call the cops and send them to me.”
On Tuesday morning, Olson played the audio tape from VPSO Madole’s recorder, which was on during the shooting. The horrifying audio captured the brief, violent interaction between Madole and Dick, starting as Officer Madole knocked on Dick’s door and asked to talk to him. An agitated Dick screamed back, and Madole began to walk away as Dick had told him to do. Dick emerged from the door with the rifle, and Tom Madole could be heard starting to run just before six shots were fired.
Four or five of the shots hit Madole’s body, and the audio captured his agony. Dick is heard approaching.
“Fucker,” Dick yelled from very close, as he fired a seventh shot that entered just behind Tom Madole’s ear.
Madole’s body was 49.6 feet from Dick’s front door.
“Tom Madole almost made it around the corner,” Olson told the jury in his closing arguments, pointing out on a map how close Madole had been to making it to cover behind a nearby house.
To prove first degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt, Olson had to prove that Dick had intended to cause death, and that he had in fact killed Madole.
“Was that his purpose when he pulled the trigger six times, and then pulled the trigger a seventh and final time?” Olson asked.
He played the tape of the murder again before the jury went to deliberate. Presiding Judge Gregory Miller appeared emotionally affected after the tape had played a second time, and briefly struggled to read instructions to the jury.
Dick’s defense attorneys, Jonathon Torres and Lars Johnson, never disputed that Dick had shot and killed Tom Madole. They called no witnesses, presented no evidence, and Leroy Dick chose not to testify. They cross examined only a few of the witnesses. According to presiding Judge Miller, the defense had also not attempted to enter any mental health issues as evidence prior to the trial.
The defense asked the jurors to consider a lesser-included charge of second degree murder, arguing that the state had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Dick had intended to kill Madole.
“What happened on March 19 was a tragedy, there’s no two ways about,” Torres said in his closing arguments. “And tragedies have consequences. The consequences in this case boil down to murder one versus murder two. That is what you are here to decide. The difference between first degree murder and second degree murder is intent.”
Torres said Dick had acted out of anger, and a sense of persecution from his family and community, but that it hadn’t been his “specific intent” to kill Madole.
Torres continued, “If one of you does not believe beyond a reasonable doubt that it was Leroy’s intent to kill VPSO Madole, then you cannot convict Leroy of murder in the first degree, and the appropriate conviction would be murder in the second degree.”
The jurors were sent to deliberate at 3 p.m. Tuesday, and returned the guilty verdict on the first degree murder charge just after 5 p.m. Judge Miller set March 6 as the date for Dick’s sentencing hearing. The state earlier announced its intention to seek a 99 year sentence.