Arraignment set for man charged with '96 murder

JUNEAU EMPIRE STAFF REPORT

A man who was serving time in Montana after being convicted for killing his girlfriend was transported to jail in Juneau on Thursday in connection to an unsolved 1996 Yakutat murder case.

Alaska State Troopers announced that cold case investigators with the Alaska Bureau of Investigation traveled to Butte, Mont., on Monday this week to arrest Robert D. Kowalski, 50, on an outstanding $1 million warrant. Kowalski is currently being held at Lemon Creek Correctional Center and is scheduled to be arraigned in Juneau Superior Court on Friday.

Kowalski was indicted by a state of Alaska grand jury in October of last year on first- and second-degree murder charges.

According to Troopers, the charges stem from a July 21, 1996, incident at Glacier Bear Lodge in Yakutat where Sandra M. Perry, 39, was killed as a result of a single gunshot to the head.

Troopers say the pair had been living together in Washington state and had travelled to Yakutat on a vacation.

The then-34-year-old Kowalski claimed he and Perry heard a bear outside of their room and they were afraid, so he armed himself with a shotgun. He states he tripped onto the bed and fell onto Perry. As he was getting up, Kowalski maintains the gun accidently discharged, striking Perry in the head.

Troopers say that narrative conflicts with a witness account from a man in the next room, who reported he had overheard an argument, followed by a single gunshot and then silence.

The Troopers’ Cold Case Unit re-opened the case following a 2008 homicide in Montana where Kowalski was convicted of killing his girlfriend. In that Montana case, Kowalski and his girlfriend had been arguing and Kowalski shot her once in the head.

After the Alaska indictment was handed up in October, Juneau Superior Court issued a warrant for Kowalski’s arrest and set bail at $1 million.

Kowalski waived his extradition and was arrested, then taken to Juneau on Thursday.

Juneau Superior Court Judge Louis Menendez is assigned to the case.

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