Federal prosecutors seek death penalty against Joshua Wade

Nurse practitioner was tortured, shot to death; court papers say motive was money

Posted: Monday, May 04, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Federal prosecutors have filed notice they intend to seek the death penalty for a man accused of killing an Anchorage nurse in 2007.

Prosecutors filed papers Thursday seeking death for Joshua Wade if he's convicted in the death of his neighbor, Mindy Schloss. Wade is charged with kidnapping, torture, murder and stealing her car.

There is no death penalty in Alaska, but federal officials are seeking the death penalty for felony carjacking. His trial is scheduled to start this fall.

Schloss disappeared in August 2007, and her body was found the following month in a wooded area in Wasilla.

Court papers say she had been tortured and shot to death.

An Anchorage jury acquitted Joshua Wade of murder in 2003, but federal prosecutors are challenging that verdict and plan to argue he was guilty as they push to execute him for the murder of Mindy Schloss.

In documents filed Thursday, prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty for Wade, who is charged with killing Schloss, a nurse practitioner who lived next door to him in Jewel Lake the summer of 2007.

They say his motive was money and have evidence he used her ATM card after she was dead to withdraw cash from her bank account.

Alaska doesn't have the death penalty. But Wade has been indicted in federal court with shooting and killing someone during a car-jacking and federal law allows the death sentence.

Wade's trial is set for this fall but further delays are likely.

If he is convicted of murder, the convicting jury will then hear arguments from prosecutors and defense attorneys, called "aggravators" and "mitigators," about whether he should be executed, explained Bob Bundy, a former U.S. Attorney in Alaska and now in private practice.

Jurors must agree unanimously that at least one aggravator is true beyond a reasonable doubt, and that it outweighs other mitigating factors, Bundy explained.

If they agree, then Wade would be sentenced to die. If not, the jury would impose a lesser sentence, which could be life in prison.

In Thursday's filing, prosecutors said they will attempt to prove that Wade killed Della Brown in 2000, and will use that previous killing as an aggravator. They can use evidence from his 2003 trial but may also use new or different information.

Other aggravators include allegations that Wade is a violent sex offender, that he has little potential for rehabilitation, that he is remorseless, that he has concealed and destroyed evidence, that he has caused "injury, harm and loss" to the Schloss family and that he is dangerous.

Wade "has demonstrated violent and aggressive behavior from on or about the age of 10 and continuing into his adult life, and between 2000 and 2007, has violently killed two women," the document said.

Prosecutor Steve Skrocki had no comment on the filing.

Wade's attorneys, based in Seattle, did not immediately return a call.

In his 2003 murder trial, jurors heard evidence that Wade took his friends to see Brown's body after she had been raped and beaten to death in a Spenard shed. He told them he killed her. His defense attorneys argued that he was only bragging, trying to impress a bunch of criminals he was hanging out with.

The jury acquitted him of murder but convicted him of tampering with evidence.

He hadn't been out of prison very long when Schloss disappeared.

Prosecutors say Wade abducted Schloss from her house, killed her and dumped her body in a wooded area in Wasilla, where it was found partially burned. They say Wade then drove her car back to Anchorage, abandoned it near the airport, then took her ATM card to two banks where he withdrew money from her account. Receipts from the ATMs were found in the pocket of a jacket at his house.

According to charging documents, she was subject to "torture and serious physical abuse" before she died.

The last Alaska prisoners executed were Austin Nelson and Eugene LaMoore, convicted of robbing and murdering a Juneau shopkeeper in 1946. Nelson was executed in 1948 and LaMoore in 1950. They were both hanged.

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