A Juneau man was arrested Monday and accused of killing his friend Richard Mason by driving over him with a truck after a fight over drunken driving.
Anthony Delez, 21, was charged with second-degree murder, driving while intoxicated and driving with a revoked license. Bail was set at $100,000 during an arraignment Monday afternoon before District Judge Keith Levy.
If convicted, Delez could face a prison sentence of 10 to 99 years and a $500,000 fine.
Friends and family of Mason attended the hearing, weeping over the loss of the 36-year-old Juneau man. Sterling Bolima praised his friend, though the others said they couldn't talk yet.
"He was a good friend and a good father," Bolima said.
Anthony Delez said he did not run over Mason on purpose, and noted that he took him to the hospital, said his father Mike Delez, who is a Juneau Empire employee.
"It was purely accidental, according to him," the defendant's father said. "I think he's telling the truth. He found out at the police station that his friend died and he would be charged with murder."
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Juneau police responded to Bartlett Regional Hospital at 3:32 a.m. Monday to interview four people who had been driving around in Delez's truck. Mason was in critical condition at that point, according to a charging affidavit.
According to witness statements in court records, Delez, Mason, George Strom and Erinn Hancock had been riding in Delez's 2001 Ford truck, and all of them had been drinking. The ages of Strom and Hancock were not available, and they couldn't be reached for comment Monday.
They were in the Auke Bay vicinity when Mason "became upset at how intoxicated Delez was and his poor driving," a witness said in court records.
Mason got out of the vehicle on Glacier Highway, near the ferry terminal. Delez drove off and left him there. But Delez returned later, and a "physical scuffle ensued between Mason, Delez and Strom," officials said.
After the fight, Delez went back into his truck. He drove toward Mason, who was standing in the street. Hancock told officials Delez accelerated and drove over Mason.
"She said that she was seated in the rear seat of the truck and felt both the front and rear tires drive over Mason," Juneau District Attorney Doug Gardner wrote.
Delez and Strom then put Mason in the truck and drove him to the hospital, where he later died.
"Officer (Russ) Haight spoke with the defendant, who stated that he had been drinking that evening and that he 'was mad' when he drove over Mason," Gardner wrote.
The defendant's father, who attended the arraignment Monday, spoke highly of his son but said he had a problem with alcohol and has sought counseling before.
Anthony Delez was convicted of underage drinking in 2003, but Gardner told Levy he did not consider that a significant criminal background. Delez will have a preliminary hearing at 11:30 a.m. on April 26.
Ken Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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