Teen gets 99 years for murder

Posted: Sunday, March 12, 2000

ANCHORAGE - Aaron Andrus is different from most teen-age murderers - he did well in school, didn't abuse alcohol or drugs, and was being brought up by loving parents.

But the 19-year-old will spend at least the next three decades in prison for killing an Anchorage cab driver in April 1998.

``I don't know what's going on in his mind,'' Superior Court Judge Larry Card said before sentencing Andrus to 99 years in prison. ``I don't know why he is the way he is.''

Andrus murdered Slobodan ``Steve'' Tadic with a single shot to the head, and stole about $150. Tadic, a Yugoslav immigrant, was the third cabbie killed in Anchorage between February and April that year.

Card sentenced Andrus to 80 years for first-degree murder, 15 years for robbery, and two years each for theft and tampering with evidence. Andrus will be eligible for parole in about 32 years.

Karla Loncar, also a Yugoslavian immigrant, on Friday called Tadic her ``dearest friend.'' During Friday's sentencing hearing, Loncar shouted at Andrus, who sat about three feet away.

``Why don't you give a chance to him and he can live and be with us?'' she cried in a ragged vibrato. ``You destroy all of us. That is wrong. . . . I have two children of my own. I don't understand.''

According to accounts offered in court, Andrus had less than a dollar in his pockets the night Tadic died, and was looking for some easy money.

Defense attorney Wally Tetlow argued that Andrus didn't plan ahead of time to shoot Tadic, that he fired the .25-caliber handgun impulsively when Tadic didn't hand over his money fast enough.

Andrus said he was sorry for the suffering of Tadic's family and of his own family, who sat grim-faced through the proceeding and shed quiet tears outside afterward.

But the teen-ager said he shouldn't get a maximum 99-year sentence.

``I did wrong. I messed up, and I will have to pay the consequences . . . but 99 (years) - that's like killing a man.''

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