Trial begins for Nome police officer charged with murder

Posted: Tuesday, January 18, 2005

NOME - Nearly a year and a half after a 19-year old woman was found shot to death, the trial of a former Nome police officer accused of her murder begins today in Nome Superior Court.

Sonya Ivanoff was a star basketball player and honor roll student in Unalakleet before moving to Nome, where she worked as a secretary. Ivanoff's body was found Aug. 13, 2003, in willow bushes at an abandoned gold mine at the city's outskirts. She had been shot in the back of the head.

Alaska State Troopers charged Nome police officer Matthew Clay Owens with the death late that October. Troopers were asked by Nome police to take over the case.

Owens is being tried on charges of first-degree murder and evidence tampering. The tampering charge concerns a police vehicle theft that Owens is accused of staging to divert attention from himself as a murder suspect.

According to KNOM Radio, a jury of eight men and seven women has been chosen, following two days of prosecution and defense questioning of more than 100 candidates.

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