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Court sees video interviews with defendant, witness

Posted: April 7, 2012 - 11:12pm

The state called its last witness Friday in the felony assault case against a Juneau man who shot another man in the face.

With Juneau Police Department Detective Elias Joven on the stand, the jury watched portions of Joven’s videotaped interview with Kenneth E. Nalan at the police station just an hour after the shooting occurred.

Nalan, 37, is charged with first-degree assault in the Dec. 20 shooting of John “J.D.” Duran, 33, who survived the incident. Nalan is claiming self-defense.

Joven, a nine-year JPD veteran with four years in the criminal investigation unit, described Nalan as being “very distraught, intoxicated and apologetic.”

The jury could see it for themselves. Nalan, wearing faded blue jeans and a baseball cap, is seen crying and whimpering, rocking back and forth in his chair and burying his head in his hands.

After he’s read his Miranda rights, Nalan admits almost right off the bat that he shot Duran, much to the detective’s apparent surprise.

“Did you just say you shot him in the head?” Joven asked after a momentary pause.

“Yeah, I shot him,” Nalan replies.

The detective patiently tried to coax information out of Nalan, but some of his answers seem nonsensical and others go unanswered amid his hysteria. He told the detective he drank about six cans of Icehouse beer and that Duran was drinking Budweiser.

Nalan told the detective he felt like he was under attack and he was overpowered by Duran. He said Duran grabbed the gun first, a loaded .357 Magnum revolver which he kept in his bedroom closet. Nalan said Duran knew where the gun was, a point Duran denied when he took the stand.

“He’s a big guy. He overpowered me, and, oh my God, I pulled the trigger,” Nalan recounts with horror. “He got the gun ... He pointed the gun at my face.”

“You took it out of his hand and pulled the trigger?” Joven asks.

“Yes sir, yes sir,” Nalan said.

“Why?”

“Because I felt I was being attacked.”

In another portion of the tape, Nalan said he grabbed the gun and pulled the trigger while it was still in Duran’s hand, which is something District Attorney David Brower took issue with when the trial first began on Tuesday.

Nalan goes on to say in the video Duran aggressively came at him and that there was a brief struggle, or “tug of war,” for the gun. But when Joven asked for Nalan to demonstrate on him what happened, Nalan backs away from him and sits back down in his chair, saying, “I just freaking shot a guy!”

The question of how the gun came into play went unanswered. When Joven asked Duran why he got his gun out of the closet, Nalan muttered something about “Southern Cali.”

Asked what that meant, Nalan said there was a heated argument over California versus Alaska earlier in the evening. But he later dismissed the argument as silly. He then went on to describe Duran as a “bad ass.” Later on the phone with his wife Angela, he is heard telling her that he didn’t mean to shoot him, it wasn’t vindictive and Duran was “all into robberies.”

At another time in the video footage, Nalan seems confused and says he has to go home to go to bed because he was work the next morning. Joven asked him if he wants a drink of water.

“I want an hour ago,” Nalan replies.

The jury also viewed the videotaped police interview with Nalan’s brother-in-law John Day Jr., 43. Nalan and Duran are not personal friends and only know each other through Day, according to the attorneys and testimony. Duran and Day have been good friends for about two years, and Day has known Nalan for about 20 years.

Day was the only other person in the room when Duran was shot, and as Joven tells him, “You’re the only person who knows what happened.”

Joven testified while he could not speak to the truthfulness of Day’s statements in their videotaped interview, he did find them inconsistent.

In the video, Day, who is visibly intoxicated, denied ever seeing the gun, and said he only heard a gun shot. But at one point, he says, “I’m not turning on nobody,” and “I know damn well what happened. I was there.”

When pressed further, Day said he saw Duran move towards Nalan, grab him and push him. He showed Joven by acting it out on him.

“John’s a big, strong dude, and Ken’s not, and I think Ken felt threatened and felt he had to pull the trigger,” Day said.

Day testified earlier he was too intoxicated to remember much and was blacked out drunk sitting on Nalan’s bed when Duran was shot in the same room. He said he drank about 15 to 18 beers.

That issue came up earlier at trial, and under cross examination, Day said he wasn’t protecting anyone by withholding information.

In the video, Day said he also thought Duran was shot outside the house, not in Nalan’s bedroom, which is not true.

Throughout the trial, Nalan’s attorney Eric Hedland has portrayed Nalan as being peaceful and Duran as being a violent aggressor.

Earlier testimony under cross examination showed on that the night of the shooting, Duran told Day, Day’s fiance and Nalan that he killed someone in California, that he robbed someone, that he was involved with gangs in California, that he was a “martial arts expert,” and that he demonstrated kill points on Day with a knife.

Duran denied almost all of it when he took the stand for the first time Thursday, but under cross-examination Friday he admitted embellishing stories when he drinks to burnish a tough reputation and to fit in. But he never robbed or killed anyone, but probably told people that he’s killed someone.

Duran said he doesn’t remember being shot or the immediate events leading up to the shooting. He said he was surprised to read in a newspaper Nalan was the person who shot him.

Duran said the last thing he remembered was playing an acoustic guitar on Nalan’s bed and hearing a door open. In his scenario, he said the direction of the bullet must have come from the hallway leading into Nalan’s room.

Police testimony, however, indicates differently as the bullet was found lodged near a light switch on a wall opposite the bed.

The trial will continue Monday with Joven taking the stand again for cross-examination. If the state doesn’t call any more witnesses, the defense can begin calling theirs.

Hedland said he plans on calling at least one character witness and one police witness, and that he wants to recall Lt. David Campbell for brief testimony.

Attorneys said they hoped to wrap up by Tuesday afternoon.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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