Police, paramedic take stand in murder trial

Jurors see graphic images of crime scene

“Are you asking me if he was dead?”

 

“Yes.”

“He was dead, and there was no struggle or anything. The blood was in a perfect pool.”

As the second murder trial of Christopher Strawn ended its first week, jurors received a graphic visual and eyewitness description of the scene from a paramedic and the first police officer on the scene.

Strawn, 34, is accused of killing 30-year-old Brandon Cook in 2015. A murder trial earlier this year ended in a mistrial. The state of Alaska is trying again, but this time, Strawn has dismissed his public defender and is representing himself.

State budget cuts have closed courthouses on Friday afternoons, and jurors were in the courtroom for only two hours.

Juneau Assistant District Attorney Amy Paige introduced paramedic Paul Kelly and Juneau Police Department Sgt. Jeremy Thomas Weske, who established in graphic detail the scene where Cook died of a shotgun blast to the back of the head.

Over Strawn’s objections, Paige also displayed crime-scene photographs to jurors.

Strawn was mostly quiet: He had few questions for Kelly, who under Paige’s questions described the “perfect pool.” Strawn is expected to cross-examine Weske when the trial resumes Monday.

Strawn was silent when Weske described Cook’s death as a homicide, something the trial is intended to establish.

That caused Judge Philip Pallenberg to interject.

“Whether this case involves a homicide or not is ultimately for the jury to decide,” Pallenberg said.

The abbreviated second day of the trial followed three and a half days of jury selection and the Thursday-afternoon beginning of the trial.

Paige offered her opening statements, while Strawn said nothing. The testimony of the first witness, JPD dispatcher Erika Johnson, was accompanied by a recording of the 911 call that brought police and paramedics to the site of Cook’s death.

Tiffany Albertson, now known as Tiffany Johnson, was Cook’s friend and witnessed the death. She was present during the first trial and has been present throughout the first days of this trial.

Next week, she’ll take the witness stand herself.


• Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-2258.


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