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Yakutat man claims self-defense in assault case

Posted: October 31, 2013 - 7:09am

A 39-year-old man facing a felony assault charge for threatening someone with a gun in Yakutat claims he was just trying to scare a trespasser off his property.

“I had no intent of hurting him,” Jason T. Yoshimi, 39, said. “If I did, I would have left the bullets in the clip, but I didn’t — I emptied it out.”

A Juneau grand jury on Friday indicted Yoshimi on one count of third-degree assault in connection to the Oct. 20 incident. He is also facing the misdemeanor charge of possessing a weapon while intoxicated.

Prosecutors could not be reached for comment about the case, but in a phone interview Wednesday, Yoshimi maintained his innocence and said he brandished the unloaded weapon in self-defense.

Yoshimi, originally from Hawaii, said he could not go into all the details, but that a person had punched through his bedroom window around 1 o’clock in the morning. He then ran outside to grab the gun out of his truck to defend himself, his property and others in his house, he said.

“I thought I had a right to protect my own property, and you know, that’s all I have to say — When someone punches in your bedroom window, I figure you have the right to protect your own well-being and property,” he said.

When the police arrived on the scene, Yoshimi said he yelled at them that he had a gun, placed it on the ground and got on his knees with his hands in the air. He said he was arrested on the spot.

Yoshimi said it was unfair that he is facing a felony offense whereas the alleged victim in the case is only facing a misdemeanor. Court records show the alleged victim, identified in court documents as Frank J. Deveraux Jr., is charged with second-degree criminal trespass. He could not be reached for comment.

Yoshimi chalked that discrepancy up to police not taking his statement and getting his side of the story. The sergeant at the Yakutat Police Department assigned to the case did not respond to queries by press time.

“I really think that I’m innocent,” Yoshimi said. “I feel that I’m the victim.”

Yoshimi speculated that Deveraux punched through his window because his ex-girlfriend was over at his house. The woman is the person who called 911, he said.

Yoshimi is scheduled to be arraigned in Juneau Superior Court before Judge Louis Menendez on Nov. 15. Court records show Yoshimi does not have a criminal history except for two DUI convictions. Since he does not have any prior felony convictions, Yoshimi is facing a presumptive zero- to two-year prison sentence for the class ‘C’ felony.

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

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