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Two more charged in connection to shootings

One defendant in custody, other still has not been arrested

Posted: December 13, 2013 - 1:06am
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Kenneth Ketah, 33, appears in Juneau District Court on Thursday afternoon for his arraignment. Prosecutors charged Ketah and codefendant Steven D. Thomas, 32, with multiple felonies in connection to two shootings in Juneau. Thomas has a $50,000 warrant out for his arrest.  Emily Russo Miller / Juneau Empire
Emily Russo Miller / Juneau Empire
Kenneth Ketah, 33, appears in Juneau District Court on Thursday afternoon for his arraignment. Prosecutors charged Ketah and codefendant Steven D. Thomas, 32, with multiple felonies in connection to two shootings in Juneau. Thomas has a $50,000 warrant out for his arrest.

Two more people have been charged in connection to a pair of drug-related shootings in Juneau last Friday, according to newly-filed charging documents.

Kenneth Ketah, 33, and Steven D. Thomas, 32, were charged Wednesday for their involvement in a shooting at the Coho Park Apartments in the Mendenhall Valley and a subsequent shooting on Egan Drive.

Ketah appeared in Juneau District Court for his first court appearance on Thursday. A $50,000 warrant was still out for Thomas’ arrest Thursday afternoon.

No one was killed or critically injured in the shootings, but police said the shootings were motivated over heroin. Three other people have already been arrested.

Prosecutors said Ketah and 44-year-old James Depasquale III confronted a 24-year-old man at the Coho Apartments, a low-income apartment complex on Amalga Drive, for not selling heroin Depasquale gave him. The 24-year-old, Jerall N. Torres, claims he shot Depasquale in self defense after being hit and threatened with a gun.

Depasquale is facing eight weapon and drug misconduct charges for his role, while Torres is facing two charges.

Prosecutors charged Ketah on Wednesday with aiding and abetting the assault of Torres, and also aiding and abetting the tampering of evidence. Prosecutors say immediately after Depasquale was shot in the shoulder and arm, Ketah yelled at a woman at the scene to hide the gun and also to get rid of a backpack that was in their vehicle. Police later recovered both the gun hidden under an apartment stairwell and the backpack hidden inside a nearby vehicle. The woman, 26-year-old Amanda M. Phillips, also has been charged with a crime for concealing the evidence.

Ketah and Thomas are both facing weapons misconduct charges in connection to the subsequent shooting on Egan Drive, court records show. Prosecutors say that after Depasquale was taken to the hospital for treatment of his injuries, Phillips tried to facilitate a reconciliatory meeting between Torres and Ketah, leading up to the shootout.

An affidavit states she went to Ketah’s room at the Breakwater Inn, but Ketah threatened her and Torres, who was outside waiting in a car. She left, and shortly afterward, Torres, Phillips and a third unnamed woman were driving on Egan when they saw Ketah and Thomas pull up beside their green Dodge Neon in a red Dodge Intrepid. The affidavit alleges that Ketah and Thomas shot at the Neon about six time and in response, Torres shot back at the Intrepid three or four times. No one was injured, police said.

Police later searched the room at the Breakwater Inn and inside located Ketah, Thomas and Depasquale, who had already been treated and released from the hospital by then. Police found and seized two handguns from the room, the affidavit states — a Walther P22 handgun and a Sterling .25 automatic pistol.

Charging documents indicate Ketah gave interviews to police, but the only incriminating statement he made was admitting to driving to the Coho Apartments with Depasquale.

Likewise, Thomas denied of most the allegations in police interviews. According to an affidavit, he admitted to police that he and Ketah followed Torres and Phillips in their vehicle on Egan Drive, but he said they only yelled at them to “slow down.” He denied that either he or Ketah handled guns during the highway encounter, which took place between Vanderbilt Hill Road and Walmart.

Thomas also contacted this reporter via email Thursday evening and maintained his innocence. It wasn’t clear if he knew a warrant was out for his arrest.

Prosecutors charged Thomas with five felonies for weapons misconduct offenses. He is facing one count of misconduct involving weapons in the second degree for possessing a firearm during the commission of a crime; two counts of misconduct involving weapons in the third degree for being a felon in possession of a gun that is capable of being concealed; and two counts of aiding and abetting misconduct involving weapons in the second degree for promoting or facilitating the possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

Ketah, meanwhile, is facing nine charges. He was charged with misconduct involving weapons in the second degree for possessing a firearm during the commission of a crime; three counts of misconduct involving weapons in the third degree for residing in a dwelling knowing there was a firearm capable of being concealed there, and for being a felon in possession of a firearm capable of being concealed; aiding and abetting assault (of Torres) in the third degree; aiding and abetting misconduct involving weapons in the second degree for promoting or facilitating the possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime; and two counts of aiding and abetting tampering with physical evidence for promoting or facilitating the concealment of the gun and backpack at the Coho Apartments. The ninth charge is drug misconduct in the fourth degree for possessing methamphetamine — police say they found a baggie of meth on him when they searched him, according to an affidavit filed Wednesday.

In court Thursday, Assistant District Attorney Amy Williams said Ketah has two prior felony convictions: one for third-degree drug misconduct in 2008, and another for first-degree burglary in 2003. Both those cases were out of Ketchikan. Williams added Ketah also has 13 prior misdemeanor convictions ranging from assault to criminal trespass to violating conditions of release.

Williams noted in court documents that Thomas has four prior felony convictions: second-degree assault in 2009, second-degree burglary in 2005, first-degree vehicle theft in 2000 and assault in 1999. Williams said he had 11 prior misdemeanor convictions.

District Court Judge Thomas Nave maintained Ketah’s bail at $50,000 cash and appointed the Public Defender Agency to represent him. All the other defendants in the case will be represented by attorneys with the Office of Public Advocacy.

Ketah is next scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 20. That hearing will be vacated if an indictment is issued before then, and the case will be re-opened in Juneau Superior Court.

Depasquale is being held at Lemon Creek Correctional Center on $100,000 bail; Torres, $10,000; Phillips, $1,000. It’s not clear whether Phillips has posted bail yet.

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

Editor’s Note: When contacted by Thomas on Thursday evening, the Empire informed him of the warrant out for his arrest and encouraged him to turn himself in.

 

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