Jurors continue to weigh Harmon's fate

Panel asks for a playback of the audio of testimony of man who found Wigen's body

Posted: Wednesday, May 04, 2005

After asking for an audio playback of testimony from the man who found Maggie Wigen's body, jurors left Juneau Superior Court on Tuesday without announcing a verdict in the trial for the man accused of raping and killing her.

James Harmon, 26, is charged with first- and second-degree murder, first-degree sexual assault, first-degree attempted sexual assault and second-degree theft in the death of Wigen in Tenakee Springs.

The 19-year-old woman was found April 1, 2003, buried in a small dam near the cabin she rented in the town 45 miles southwest of Juneau. People noticed she was missing the previous week.

The case went to the jury shortly before 1:30 p.m. Monday. Jurors left the courthouse after a full day of deliberations Tuesday and were scheduled to continue this morning.

Since beginning deliberations, jurors have requested to replay recorded testimony from several witnesses who came from Tenakee Springs, including Arnie Strong, the community's only teacher.

Strong uncovered Wigen while digging in the dam two days after Alaska State Troopers suspended their support for the community search, conducted the last weekend of March 2003.

Strong also accompanied a search-dog team from Sitka that stopped at the dam during that weekend.

Both Juneau District Attorney Patrick Gullufsen and Assistant Public Defender David Seid told jurors Monday to look at what the dam revealed about the case.

Seid argued that because search dogs ignored the dam during the weekend search and Tenakee Springs resident David Zeiger testified to seeing differences in the dam the following Tuesday, there is evidence Wigen was not buried there until after Harmon left the island late that Sunday night.

Gullufsen argued that Zeiger's opinion was disputed by other witnesses from the community. Additionally, medical testimony showed from the way the blood had settled in Wigen's body after her death that she was placed in the dam shortly after she was killed.

He also said only Harmon, who was paid $35 to do maintenance work on the dam the weekend before Wigen went missing, would have known enough about the state of dam to know how easy it would be to bury her there.

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

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