The upcoming spring trial for a re-opened “cold case” was pushed back to this fall.
Juneau Superior Court Judge Louis Menendez this week rescheduled a jury trial for Robert D. Kowalski, 50, to begin in November instead of May.
Kowalski is accused of fatally shooting his girlfriend in a Yakutat lodge 15 years ago. Alaska investigators at the time had ruled the death accidental, but re-opened the case in January 2009 after Kowalski was charged and convicted in the 2008 murder of his girlfriend in Montana.
On Thursday, Kowalski’s attorney Eric Hedland requested more time, calling the files in the case “massive.” He said he’s already received 29 CDs or DVDs, and has not yet had time to review them.
“I want to be able to dedicate a lot for it,” he said.
Kowalski agreed to waive his right for his case to be tried within 120 days of being charged.
Cold case prosecutor Paul J. Miovas Jr., with the attorney general’s Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals, who appeared at Thursday’s hearing via phone, said he didn’t object to the new time frame.
“I understand that with this type of case and with the materials involved that it’s probably going to take longer than the average case for them to prepare, and I’m fine with that,” he said.
Miovas said that three calendar weeks is realistic for the trial since two homicides are going to litigated in this case. Miovas added he has involved the victim’s family in the case, and while they were anxious for proceedings to begin, they understood the reality of the case.
Kowalski faces felony counts of murder in the first and second degree in the July 1996 death of his then-girlfriend, Sandra M. Perry. Perry’s son, Jeremy, listened in on the court hearing Thursday by phone, Menendez said.
Perry, 39, was killed July 21, 1996, at Glacier Bear Lodge in Yakutat, where the couple was vacationing from Washington.
Kowalski is currently in custody at Lemon Creek Correctional Center, and is also presently serving time for the 2008 Montana murder.
He was charged four years ago with fatally shooting his 45-year-old girlfriend in the face in Flathead County, Mont. He pleaded guilty in that case to mitigated deliberate homicide with an Alford plea, and was sentenced to 50 years in prison with 10 suspended in April of 2009. In an Alford plea, the defendant does not admit guilt, but admits there is sufficient evidence to successfully prosecute him for the crime he is charged with.
Kowalski is next expected to appear in court in Juneau for a pretrial hearing in June.
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.