Marvin double murder trial set to start

Motion to change venue denied by judge
John Marvin Jr., left, looks on as his attorney Eric Hedland, center, argues for a change of venue on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in Juneau, Alaska. Marvin faces murder and weapons charges in the 2010 deaths of two Hoonah police officers. Pictured on the right is District Attorney David Brower. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

A jury has been selected in the John N. Marvin Jr. case, and the trial will begin today. 


Marvin is accused of fatally shooting two police officers in Hoonah in 2010 and barricading himself in his house for a day and a half. He is facing two counts of first-degree murder, and if convicted, he could be facing life in prison.

Fourteen jurors were selected: 11 men and three women. Two will serve as alternates.

The jurors took an oath after they were selected, and they were instructed to report back to court Thursday morning for opening statements.

District Attorney David Brower said he plans on playing an audio recording of the police scanner radio traffic and displaying photographs of the slain police officers during his opening statements. Brower produced a potential witness list to the court that contained almost 100 names.

The defense attorney, Public Defender Eric Hedland, did not say what he is planning on opening with. He did, however, emphasize several points during general voir dire, or questioning of the prospective jurors, such as the fact that the state has to prove Marvin “intentionally” killed the two officers. He quizzed the prospective jurors on the definition of intentional and “state of mind,” as well as how those things could possibly be determined.

Outside the presence of the jurors, Hedland requested the trial be held outside of Juneau, citing pretrial publicity. He argued of the 90 prospective jurors that were questioned, only seven were completely unfamiliar with the case. (Of the 14 that were ultimately chosen, only two were unfamiliar with the case.)

Sitka Superior Court Judge David George, who is presiding over the trial,  denied the request, saying, “I don’t find that because of the dissemination of potentially prejudicial material there is a substantial likelihood that in the absence of a change of venue a fair trial can’t be had in Juneau.”

It took three days to select the jurors out of approximately 90 people who were summoned to court for jury duty.

Opening statements will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday morning.

Marvin initially was declared incompetent to stand trial but was cleared to proceed in June. Defense attorney Hedland sought another competency hearing last week after complaining that Marvin was unwilling or unable to communicate with him. That evaluation was conducted in Anchorage, and Sitka Superior Court Judge David George on Friday found him competent to stand trial.

(The Associated Press contributed the last paragraph of this report.)

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at

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