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Jurors see alleged murder weapon in fatal Hoonah shootings

Seized evidence the focus of testimony on Saturday

Posted: October 28, 2012 - 8:59pm
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Alaska State Trooper Paul Wegrzyn answers questions by District Attorney David Brower in Juneau Superior Court in the trial of John N. Marvin, Jr. on Friday.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Alaska State Trooper Paul Wegrzyn answers questions by District Attorney David Brower in Juneau Superior Court in the trial of John N. Marvin, Jr. on Friday.

(Editor's note: This story has been modified to reflect the correct location where the Browning rifle was found inside the defendant's house.)

On Saturday, jurors saw for themselves the weapon that prosecutors say was used to shoot and kill two police officers in Hoonah in 2010.

Alaska State Trooper Mark Granda, one of the state’s witnesses who investigated the case, took the rifle out of a sealed evidence box to show to the jury.

Granda testified he found the Browning BAR 7 mm rifle with a scope in the first floor living room area of defendant John N. Marvin Jr.'s house.

Marvin, 47, is on trial for two counts of first-degree murder for causing the deaths of Hoonah Police Department Officer Matthew Tokuoka and Sgt. Anthony Wallace, who were gunned down in the streets of Hoonah on Aug. 28, 2010. If convicted, Marvin could face life in prison.

Another investigator, Alaska State Trooper Andrew Adams, testified that the Browning BAR was one of about 25 total guns found inside Marvin’s home, all of which were also seized as evidence. Some were loaded, some were not, Adams said.

A third investigator, Wildlife Trooper Andy Savland, who is stationed in Hoonah and was also on scene as an initial witness moments after the shootings, said he found a 7 mm casing among a pile of stuff near a window on the upstairs floor. Savland was executing a search warrant to remove and seize the upstairs window about a week after the shootings when he happened upon it, he said. He also seized a “pistol perch” or “rifle rest” that is used to steady the aim of a gun in the same area of the home.

Under cross-examination, Savland said he did not know either then or now if those items have forensic value in the case, but said he called it in to the district attorney anyway. A search warrant was amended to allow those items to be seized, he said. He said to this day, he does not know what weapon was used to kill the officers.

The 7 mm casing that was found by Savland was among many hundreds, maybe thousands, of rounds of ammunition discovered in Marvin’s home, investigators said under cross examination from Marvin’s attorney, public defender Eric Hedland, who has described his client as someone with mental health problems deteriorating over time and becoming more “survivalist.”

Trooper Adams said there were many empty casings of various calibers scattered around the house, and that there were more expended rounds lying about than live rounds.

“But they were scattered in what seemed to me, at the time anyway, as in almost random locations,” Adams said under cross-examination.

Jurors also saw pictures, taken by investigators, of the view from Marvin’s upstairs window looking out at the location where the officers were shot — a parking lot of a liquor store where an on-duty officer (Wallace) introduced his mother to the off-duty officer (Tukuoka) and his family as they took out their trash to the city-owned liquor store’s dumpster in their personal vehicle.

The home is located some 50, 60 feet away from the parking lot, and the pictures appear to show there could have been a direct line of shot to the officers at that location at about a 30- to 40- degree angle from Marvin’s upstairs window located on the south side of his house.

Under cross-examination, Hedland pointed out that at the time of the shootings, pictures show the window was partially obscured on one side by two computer monitor screens stacked on top one another, and a small table directly underneath the window. He also established that the photographs showing the line of view to the officers and their vehicles were a recreation based on the memory of the widow of Officer Tokuoka.

Jurors also heard testimony from Juneau Police Department officers who began arriving in Hoonah the day after the 11 p.m. shootings to assist in setting up a perimeter around Marvin’s home and his eventual arrest. Police tried to establish communication with Marvin as he was barricaded in his home.

No one had a phone number for Marvin, and police used a 485-pound military style robot with a claw to leave Marvin a phone on his front porch. The robot, which is affixed with cameras, also tried to look inside the home’s first story windows, and to take down pieces of the front door. Officers testified that they could hear Marvin banging with a hammer and nails, trying to keep himself barricaded inside.

Marvin came out twice and knocked the robot over, police said. Testimony showed that the entire standoff was peaceful, and no officers were threatened or fired upon by Marvin.

About 36 hours later, JPD and the Alaska State Troopers Special Emergency Reaction Team volleyed tear gas canisters into the home, which led Marvin to come outside and peacefully surrender. He was handcuffed by SERT member Paul Wegrzyn, and handed over to Investigators Granda and Adams to be interviewed.

On Saturday, District Attorney David Brower played a short clip of the audio recording from the beginning of that interview, in which Marvin confirms that he is physically OK. Marvin tells the investigators that he slept through the ordeal.

Testimony will continue on Monday, the fourth day of the trial, with the defense cross-examining Granda, the lead investigator who interviewed Marvin.

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

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