Witnesses to Hoonah shooting, standoff remember earlier encounters with convicted gunman

Most of the testimony Tuesday in an ongoing civil trial against the City of Hoonah focused on encounters with convicted murderer John Marvin Jr. before the August 2010 incident in which he shot two police officers and barricaded himself inside his home.

Debbie Greene testified about driving past Marvin’s house earlier in the evening before her son Tony Wallace was shot.

“I said ‘There’s a man looking out of the window,'” Greene testified.

“What did your son say back to you?” asked Mark Choate, attorney for Haley Tokuoka-Yearout, who’s suing the city for wrongful death. Tokuoka-Yearout was married to the other officer killed in the incident, Matthew Tokuoka.

“‘Don’t worry about it, mom,'” remembered Greene.

John Millan became Hoonah’s police chief after officers Wallace and Tokuoka got into a physical altercation with Marvin. During the incident Marvin allegedly tried to get a hold of one of the officers’ service weapons before he was Tasered. Millan later commended Wallace and Tokuoka for taking Marvin into custody without resorting to deadly force.

Millan, who’s no longer Hoonah’s chief, testified that he had three conversations with Marvin without incident. But another encounter a month before the fatal shooting included all three officers going to Marvin’s house to serve a ‘no trespass’ letter from the local school.

“Almost immediately after knocking, the door rapidly opened,” Millan said. “I would say it snatched open. Mr. Marvin was standing in the doorway. He just lurched forward to the point where I stepped back a little bit because he got right in my face. Very enraged, red face, angered look, tense body position.”

Millan said Marvin unleashed a series of profanities while yelling for the officers to get off his property. Millan said they thought it would be better to just go without serving the trespass letter.

Millan, who testified on behalf of the City of Hoonah, also explained the differences in police training between Alaska and his home state of North Carolina. Because of Alaska’s unique geography and small population, new officers may go through field officer training in smaller Alaska communities before attending a police academy.

Also Tuesday, Marvin’s ex-wife Johanna Dybdahl briefly testified about her conversations with Marvin just before the shooting.

Before the jury arrived in the courtroom for Tuesday’s proceedings, City of Hoonah attorneys moved for Superior Court Judge Louis Menendez to dismiss the lawsuit. But Menendez determined that Haley Tokuoka-Yearout’s attorneys presented sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to decide the civil case.

Hoonah attorneys intend to call four Alaska State Troopers who responded when Marvin barricaded himself in his house after the shooting. They also still plan to call Marvin himself to the stand.

Closing arguments could occur as soon as Friday.

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