Witness: Wigen worried about Harmon before death

Posted: Thursday, April 21, 2005

Maggie Wigen said she was bothered by James Harmon, and one of his friends said he acted strangely when asked about her disappearance a couple of months later, according to testimony Wednesday during Harmon's trial in the woman's death two years ago in Tenakee Springs.

But the day in court began with Harmon's attorney losing a motion for a mistrial, claiming he was surprised by a sock that showed up late Tuesday in a picture the prosecution had enlarged for the jury. Assistant Public Defender David Seid argued that he would have presented his defense differently if he had known about it.

Wigen, 19, disappeared in late March and was found April 19, 2003, buried in an earth dam near the cabin she rented in the island community. Harmon, 26, faces charges of first- and second-degree murder, first-degree sexual assault, first-degree attempted sexual assault and second-degree theft.

Seid also unsuccessfully argued to keep jurors from hearing Tenakee Springs resident Melinda Moore testify to not liking Harmon. Out of the presence of jurors, he called it "an unfair character assassination."

Juneau District Attorney Patrick Gullufsen argued that Moore would show that Wigen wasn't disposed to inviting Harmon for lunch into her cabin, where his fingerprints were found. In the defense's opening statement last week, Seid acknowledged the fingerprints and said Harmon had left them while eating lunch in the cabin.

Moore said that in January or February of 2003, she was talking to Wigen on the unpaved road that runs through Tenakee Springs, when they saw Harmon walking down the stairs that led to Wigen's cabin.

"She turned her back deliberately to him," Moore testified. "She said, 'That man bothers me,' or, 'He bothers me.'"

From there, everyone went their separate ways, and Moore probably never talked to Wigen again, she said.

"You said, 'He bothers me, too,'" Seid asked the witness.

Moore said she did say that. When questioned again by Gullufsen, she said she couldn't remember what else she told troopers. Superior Court Judge Trevor Stephens refused Gullufsen's request to allow her to read aloud her statement to troopers.

Stephens, a Ketchikan judge presiding in the Juneau case, advised jurors that Moore's testimony should not be considered proof of Harmon's guilt, but as something to weigh against other evidence.

Another prosecution witness Wednesday described himself as friends with both Wigen and Harmon.

Levi Odenheimer was living in Sitka on March 31, 2003, when Harmon arrived by ferry from Tenakee Springs. Odenheimer said he heard from his father that Wigen was missing. Odenheimer's father had been on the ferry with Harmon.

"I asked him (Harmon) - it was kind of strange what happened to Maggie," Odenheimer said. "He looked out the window and didn't make eye contact, and the subject changed.

"I thought it was strange that there was no response," he added, drawing an objection from Seid, who later asked him if Harmon was "a man of few words."

"Sometimes he's a man of few words," Odenheimer answered. "Sometimes he's a man of a lot of words."

Seid's biggest objection of the day came in his rejected motion for Stephens to declare a mistrial over a picture of a sock.

Last week Seid told jurors the timeline of events would be important in the trial, and that Wigen's body may not have been buried in the dam until after Harmon left Tenakee Springs.

The sock, however, was seen on the ground near the cabin in photographs taken before Harmon left and when Wigen was discovered, state trooper Eric Burroughs testified. And it appeared to be the mate of the sock found on Wigen's left foot when her mostly unclothed body was dug up.

The sock was the same color and texture as the one buried with Wigen. Both bore the words "Fox River," Burroughs said.

Gullufsen also presented more testimony in an effort to link Harmon to the theft of $100 bills from Wigen's cabin.

Odenheimer said he saw Harmon use a $100 bill in Sitka. And a receipt found in the trash on the boat where Harmon lived in Tenakee Springs showed that he had arrived there March 14, one day before the Army deposited more than $1,000 in Harmon's Wells Fargo Bank account, according to previous testimony.

There are no banks in Tenakee Springs.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.



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