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Update: Juneau woman charged for incidental role in Friday shooting

Court documents reveal incident involved two men arguing over the sale of heroin

Posted: December 9, 2013 - 3:58pm

Update:

Police announced Monday afternoon that they have arrested two other people in connection to the Friday shooting at the Coho Park Apartments.

Lt. Kris Sell of the Juneau Police Department said in a statement that 44-year-old James Depasquale has been arrested on suspicion of four felonies: misconduct involving a controlled substance in the second degree, solicitation of misconduct involving a controlled substance in the second degree, misconduct involving weapons in the second degree and assault in the third degree.

Twenty-four-year-old Jerall Torres has been arrested on suspicion of misconduct involving a weapon, also a felony offense.

Both are being held at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center.

Police also say they are investigating a second shooting that came to light during the course of their investigation. Sell said no one reported hearing shots fired and no one was injured in that incident, so police only learned of it later on.

"JPD continues to investigate the second shooting," she wrote. "That incident was between the parties from the first shooting with the addition of one man associated with those involved in the first shooting. That incident was on Egan Drive between Vanderbilt and Walmart and was between two moving vehicles during the early morning hours of Friday, December 6th. No person or vehicle was struck during the exchange of gunfire between the vehicles. JPD officers closed Egan Drive Friday morning, at about 10:30 a.m., for about twenty minutes so that officers could collect evidence from that second shooting."

Sell added that police have confirmed a woman who made a false report of kidnapping was voluntarily involved with the pair. More charges are forthcoming, she added.

•••

Original article appears below:

A 26-year-old Juneau woman has been charged with tampering with physical evidence in connection to a Friday shooting at the Coho Park Apartments, according to court documents.

Prosecutors charged Amanda M. Phillips with the felony offense on Saturday for allegedly hiding one of the handguns involved in the incident. Police later located the gun under the stairs of one of the apartments in the complex located in the 3600 block of Amalga Street in the Mendenhall Valley.

During her first felony appearance at the Juneau courthouse over the weekend, Phillips expressed surprise she was being charged with a crime, as her involvement was incidental. She said police told her “they were holding me on this only because of my safety for the night.”

Phillips is the first person to be charged in connection to the case, which dominated the police department’s attention on Friday as they searched for the suspected shooter. The police heightened their search efforts when they received a report, later revealed to be false, from a woman who claimed she had been kidnapped by one of the men. Police indicated there was “a whole laundry list of potential charges” that could be filed against multiple people, including the woman who made the false kidnapping report.

Police said their investigation revealed a 24-year-old man shot a 44-year-old man following an argument in the parking lot of the Coho Apartments. It appeared the man’s injuries — one gunshot to the shoulder and another to the wrist — were not life threatening. He was treated and released from the hospital within seven hours.

Police did not disclose the motivation for the shooting, but court documents indicate it was drug-related. An affidavit filed in Phillips’ court case suggests it began with a 44-year-old drug dealer identified as James Depasquale III confronting 24-year-old Jerall Torres regarding the sale of heroin.

According to the affidavit penned by Assistant District Attorney Amy Williams, Depasquale previously gave Torres heroin to sell to others with the agreement that Torres would get a cut of the profits and Depasquale would get the rest. But Torres never sold the drugs and Depasquale never saw any money, which led to the confrontation. The situation escalated with two gun shots ringing out shortly after midnight.

Police found Torres and Phillips driving in a vehicle on Friday afternoon, and they interviewed them both about what transpired. Torres told police in the interview that he had just dropped off Phillips at the apartment complex when Depasquale and another man — identified in court documents as Kenneth Ketah — pulled in behind his white pickup truck in the parking lot. Torres said he tried to give the bag of drugs back to Depasquale, but that Depasquale threatened to kill him anyway. Torres claimed that Depasquale then pointed a gun at his head, hit him with the gun in his face and shot off a round inside Torres’ truck while Torres was still inside, the affidavit states.

Believing he was going to be shot, Torres told police he grabbed his gun under his seat, pointed it at Depasquale and warned him that he didn’t want to shoot. But Depasquale “puffed out his chest” and moved toward Torres with the gun still pointed at Torres. Torres confessed to police that he then fired his gun twice, the affidavit alleges.

The affidavit states Depasquale was uncooperative and refused to answer the police’s questions at the scene of the shooting, and he was taken to the hospital in an ambulance for treatment of his injuries. The Juneau Police Department later recorded a phone call between Torres and Depasquale to obtain a confession. The affidavit states that in the phone conversation, Depasquale admitted to confronting Torres “because Torres had not paid him for the drugs Depasquale gave him to sell.” Depasquale also admitted to pointing a gun at Torres and trying to shoot him, but he said the gun never fired.

“Depasquale said he tried to shoot Torres as Torres was pulling away but that when he pulled the trigger the gun did not fire,” Williams wrote in the affidavit.

Neither Depasquale nor Torres has been charged with a crime yet.

Phillips in her interview with police corroborated Torres’ story. She said she saw Depasquale point a handgun at Torres’ through the driver’s side window of Torres’ truck. The affidavit states at one point Phillips inserted herself between the two men and begged them to stop.

Phillips told police she was looking away when she heard the gunshots, and that right afterward Depasquale came up to her after he was shot, pressed the gun against her chest and told her to “get rid of it because the cops were coming.” She admitted to police that she obliged and hid it under the stairs of one of the apartments. JPD later found it “covered in fresh blood,” Williams wrote.

In court Saturday, Magistrate Judge Amanda Schulz ordered Phillips be held in custody on a 100 percent cash $1,500 performance bond and a 10 percent cash $1,000 appearance bond. The Juneau Public Defender Agency was appointed to represent her, and Phillips is next scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday.

Tampering with physical evidence is a class ‘C’ felony that can be punishable by up to five years in prison.

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

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