The jury trial for a man accused of murdering two police officers in Hoonah began Thursday with emotional testimony from family members of the slain officers and the then-chief of the Hoonah Police Department.
It was the first time the jury and public heard the details surrounding the August 2010 deaths of Officer Matthew Tokuoka and Sgt. Anthony Wallace, who were gunned down in Hoonah on Aug. 28, 2010.
John N. Marvin Jr., who was arrested after barricading himself in his house for about 36 hours after the shootings, is on trial for two counts of first-degree murder, one count for each officer shot dead. He could be facing life in prison if convicted.
The first witness the state called to the stand was Haley Tokuoka, the widow of Officer Tokuoka.
Haley recounted her story to the jurors, beginning hours before the shootings occurred. She recalled that she, her husband and their two children, now ages 4 and 8, spent the day fishing and crabbing since her husband didn’t have to go to work until 11 p.m. After a fun day, they ate supper as a family, along with Haley’s sister, brother-in-law and parents.
After dinner, Haley, her husband and children drove to a dumpster in front of a liquor store about 10 minutes after 10 p.m. to discard the scraps, so it wouldn’t attract bears at her parents house. They parked in a lot and got out of the car as Matthew prepared to put the trash away. But that never happened.
Haley testified that across the street, some 50, 60 feet away in a row of houses, she saw a light on in John N. Marvin Jr.’s home. Being from Hoonah, a small town of around 800 to 900 people, she’s known of him all her life and knew whose house it was. She saw something alarming. She said she saw him repeatedly slamming what looked to be a metal, rectangular ammo box on the ground in his home.
She called her husband over and told him what she was seeing. He advised her not to draw any attention to them, and they agreed to hurry up and leave after they put the trash away.
Unexpectedly, they saw a police car pull up behind them, and heard cop car lights and sirens. It was Sgt. Anthony Wallace, who playfully was trying to get their attention and pretending to “pull them over.” He was in good spirits since his mother, Deborah Greene, had come up from St. Petersburg, Fla., to visit him. Greene was doing a ride-along with her son while he was on duty that day.
Wallace stepped out the car and introduced them to his mother. During that conversation, Haley said she told Wallace about Marvin’s seemingly bizarre actions, and her husband advised Wallace not to draw attention to the scene.
Wallace, however, took out his flashlight and shined it towards Marvin’s home, which prompted Officer Tokuoka to scold him.
“My husband said, ‘Tony, I just told you not to draw attention. What the f--- are you doing?” Haley testified.
Embarrassed, Wallace went over to talk to the Tokuoka’s kids in the car while the couple continued chatting with Wallace’s mother.
Wallace was standing with his back to the street, leaning into the car with one foot on the running board, saying hi to the kids secured in car seats in the backseat. He was like an uncle to them, Haley said.
Then, they all heard a gun shot. Then Wallace saying, “I’m shot, I’m shot.”
“He just crumbled to the ground,” Haley said, “He just crumbled.”
Officer Tokuoka immediately ran to Wallace and moved him to safety out of the line of fire behind their personal vehicle, a Chevy truck. Meanwhile, Haley dashed to the driver’s seat to drive off to get her kids to safety. Haley said she tried to back up (she was parked behind a loading truck at the liquor store) and her husband screamed, “Stop the f------- truck, you’re going to run him over.”
Once Wallace was in a safe position, Haley drove straight to her parents house and called 911. While on the phone, she could hear the police radio in the background: “Second officer down.”
“I knew that my husband was shot,” she said, weeping in court.
She saw him not much later at the local clinic, where both he and Wallace were taken. At first, she wasn’t allowed in the E.R., then a nurse allowed her to see him.
“He had been shot twice, I thought it was one time, I didn’t know it was twice,” she said, saying he was shot in the chest. “The whole time, you could see that his belly was filling up with blood, and his breaths were getting shorter and shorter. And I told him I loved him, and he was able to mouth, ‘I love you.’”
She left the room so doctors could keep working on him. The physicians assistant soon after told her there wasn’t much more they could do. Doctors left them alone, while they kept working on Wallace, who died the next morning at Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau after being transported by a Coast Guard helicopter.
EMT Christopher Budke told Haley he would keep pumping oxygen through a mask until she was ready.
“Chris had his head and was pumping oxygen,” she sobbed. “I had his hand. And I was just singing to him telling him it was OK, and that I was going to take care of the kids, and that I didn’t want him to hurt anymore.”
Under cross examination on Thursday, Haley testified she didn’t know which direction the bullets came from, or who the shooter was.
Haley said she wasn’t able to go home for days, and camped out at her sister’s house. By then, police had already pinned Marvin as the prime suspect and surrounded his home. Haley said she watched the stand-off from her sister’s front porch. The stand-off eventually ended peacefully with Marvin surrendering when police threw tear gas canisters into his house to get him out.
The first person to get on the police radio the night of the shootings is a woman frantically screaming, “OFFICER DOWN. OFFICER DOWN.” It is Deborah “Debbie” Greene, the mother of Sgt. Anthony Wallace.
Greene, a nurse who now lives in Louisiana, testified Thursday that it was her first time visiting Hoonah, and her son had arranged for them to do a ride-along. They first drove to the end of the island, then back. That means they would have already driven past Marvin’s house in a marked police vehicle twice within a half an hour or so.
When they first passed Marvin’s house, Greene said she happened to see a man looking out of the window. She said something aloud about it to her son, who told her not to worry about it.
After her son had written a traffic ticket to a slow-moving car, her son noticed the Tokuoka’s in the parking lot of the liquor store, and pulled over to say hi. After about a 5, 10 minute conversation, the gunshot rang, and her son fell to the ground.
Greene, sitting in passenger seat at the time, said, “I saw Tony on the ground, and he hollered to Matt, ‘Matt, I’ve been shot.’ And Matt was by the door and Haley, and then Matt told Haley to get the f---out of there, and she ran to her car, and we were both screaming for her to stop because she was going to run Tony over. So she stopped, and he pulled Tony out from under the truck. And I was on the radio. ... I crawled over (to the driver’s seat), grabbed the radio and called it in.”
She got out of the vehicle and ran over next to her son and Officer Tokuoka who was kneeling over him.
“I held my son’s hand, and he asked me if he had been shot in the head. So I checked his head for him and I told him no, I promise you, you’ve not been shot in the head. And Matt was right there. I turned to look at Matt, and he got two shots in the chest.”
Wallace had been shot in the back and in the leg, prosecutors said.
Under cross-examination, Greene told the jurors she did not know who the shooter was, or where the direction the shots came from. She said she originally thought they were coming from the dumpster, which is opposite direction of Marvin’s house, because she thought she saw smoke there. She could not say for sure how many gun shots she heard, maybe three, maybe five.
The eye witness
William J. Wells, who has lived in Hoonah for the past eight years, was smoking a cigarette inside his apartment from the open window when he saw all the commotion below. His apartment was located about 100 feet away from the shootings.
When called to the stand by the state, Wells testified that while watching and listening to the incident, he heard an officer say, “Please stop, John, you don’t have to do this.” He said he could not tell where the shots were fired from.
The police chief
Hoonah Police Department Chief John Millan, who had only been on the job for 10 months, had just gotten out of the shower and was drying off when he heard a woman’s voice he didn’t recognize come over his police scanner at home, advising officers were down.
He rushed to the scene and was the first emergency responder to arrive there. He saw his officers lying on their backs on the ground, side by side, each unable to move but with eyes still open.
Still in the “kill zone,” he drew his pistol and asked Tokuoka where the shooter was, and he was unable to get an answer. He then asked Wallace.
Millan testified that Wallace lifted his arm up to point, but Millan mistook that for Wallace wanting to hold his hand.
“He had big hands, he pushed my hand away, and then he said ‘John.’ And I said, ‘What?’ And he made the motion again. And then I looked over to where he had directed his hand.”
Is that the time you saw some lights coming on at Mr. Marvin’s house?” District Attorney David Brower asked.
“Yes, sir,” Millan said.
“The confusion was I have the same name as the suspect,” Millan elaborated under cross examination with public defender Eric Hedland. “So it was not clear to me who Officer Wallace was referring to. When he held his hand up, I thought he wanted me to grip his hand for reassurance. He was holding his hand up to point, which is why he pushed my hand away. When he said ‘John,’ I said ‘What.’ And then, when he pointed, I realized he was no longer saying John as in Chief John Millan. He was pointing toward Mr. Marvin’s house.”
The chief quit his job in April of last year due to the emotional distress and survivor’s guilt, he said. He also suffered a heart attack last year. The two officers who were killed were the only full-time paid officers in small police department, which also has a reserve officer.
It was the worst day of his life, he said.
“I just couldn’t take the emotional toll anymore,” he said. “Hoonah is such a small town. Every day, I’d go out for a cup of coffee, or take a walk or go out to Icy Strait Point, I’d have to drive by that spot. Every day. And I didn’t have any family there, and as much as I cared about the people there, the two officers that I had known well were killed.”
Prior police contact: Motive?
In opening statements Thursday, District Attorney Brower said that Tokuoka and Wallace arrested Marvin in 2009, which caused Marvin to dislike them.
According to defense attorney Hedland, on Aug. 15, 2009, police responded to a trespass call, that someone had entered someone’s home. The allegation was that Marvin walked into a woman’s home unannounced and shut the door behind him. The woman called for her husband to come down while she asked Marvin to leave, which he did. He apparently acted strangely and walked out of the house, and by the time police tried to contact him, Marvin was back at his house.
Hedland said some incident ensued that left Marvin “Tased and bloodied and jailed.” The police originally sought mental health help for Marvin as a substitute for the criminal proceedings, but that ultimately didn’t work out. Marvin ended up being charged with criminal trespass and assaults against each of the officer, Tokuoka and Wallace. Those charges were dismissed.
Hedland said that incident did not happen in a vacuum either: “Apparently there was some concern by Officer Wallace, a sort of standing concern, about Mr. Marvin, and they had a series of run-ins, and I expect you’ll hear that generally those were instigated by Officer Wallace.”
Hedland told the jurors, “Mr. Brower said that Mr. Marvin was angry at these police officers for prior treatment, that I understood was a suggestion as motive. What you will find out is that the police officers had a problem with Mr. Marvin, and people made an assumption that given the prior dealings with Mr. Marvin that Mr. Marvin was the person who shot the officers.”
Millan also testified about previous contacts police have had with Marvin. In the spring of 2010, Millan and Wallace went to Marvin’s house to give him a notice to keep off school property without permission. Marvin acted “irate, hostile and profane,” Millan said.
“He said I know who you want me to believe you are, but I know who you really are: you’re that [filtered word] from Juneau,” Millan said, saying Marvin started screaming for him to get off his property, which they did. Wallace did not say anything during the encounter, Millan said.
Millan also happened to be in court the same day Marvin was in court for having expired plates in early 2010. Millan said after court, Marvin came up to him and said he was Russian royalty, and that he has diplomatic immunity.
Millan noted another instance, Marvin came to the police station to express concerns about the police department.
Another time, police received a report that he was making a person feel uncomfortable at a local grocery store. Millan responded to the call, and Marvin to leave, which he did politely, Millan said.
It was “common knowledge” that Marvin had mental health problems, and while he was known to be weird, make people uncomfortable and to have inconsistent behavior, Millan said under cross-examination that he had never observed Marvin being violent before.
That testimony goes along with the narrative put forth by the defense that Marvin was suffering from a mental disorder that was growing increasingly worse, and that he was deteriorating over time, becoming more isolated and more “survivalist” and feeling more “under siege” from police.
What’s to come
Sitka Superior Court Judge David George, who is presiding over the trial, said the trial will continue Friday, Saturday and into next week. Brower said he is hopeful that he can call all his witnesses by Tuesday. Then the defense will have their turn to present a case.
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.