Update: Police originally said Jerall Torres, 24, was facing one count of weapons misconduct, a felony offense, in connection to the incident. Court documents now show that he is facing a second felonious charge: misconduct involving a controlled substance in the second degree for knowingly possessing heroin with intent to deliver. More information will be available after Tuesday’s court hearing, scheduled to take place at 1:15 p.m.
Three people, including a gunshot victim who was allegedly peddling narcotics, have been arrested in connection to a shooting Friday at an apartment complex in the Mendenhall Valley, police said Monday.
Police said they learned some the same people were involved in second shooting that took place the same morning on Egan Drive, an incident that previously went unreported since no one heard shots fired and no one was injured.
Lt. Kris Sell of the Juneau Police Department said 44-year-old James Depasquale was arrested on suspicion of felony drug and weapons misconduct as well as assault, and 24-year-old Jerall Torres was arrested on a lone felony weapons misconduct charge. Torres is suspected of shooting Depasquale at the Coho Park Apartments shortly after midnight during an argument over the sale of heroin. Torres told officers the shooting was in self defense, according to court documents.
A third person, 26-year-old Amanda M. Phillips, was arrested on suspicion of tampering with physical evidence. She is accused of hiding one of the handguns involved in the first incident from police.
Prosecutors charged all three defendants via criminal information on Saturday. All three are from Juneau, and all are being held at Lemon Creek Correctional Center.
The shootings dominated the police department’s attention on Friday as they searched for the then-unidentified 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 Torres. Sell confirmed Monday that the woman was voluntarily involved with both Torres and Phillips. Police indicated it’s possible the woman, whose name has not been released, could be charged with filing a false police report.
According to an affidavit in Phillips’ court case, 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 at the apartment complex, the affidavit suggests.
Police located 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 a 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 then fled the scene, 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. His 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, a hospital spokesman confirmed.
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,” Assistant District Attorney Williams wrote in the affidavit.
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 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.
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.”
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.
On Monday, police said they learned of the second shooting through their investigation.
“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,” Sell said. “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.”
Depasquale is facing four felony charges: 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.
Torres is facing one single felony charge of weapons misconduct charge.
Electronic court records that were updated late Monday afternoon also indicated Torres and Depasquale appeared before Schulz on Saturday for their first felony appearance. All three are slated to appear in Juneau District Court today for further proceedings.
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.