Shopping center slaying: Defense claims man's arrest 'illegal'

Attorney says clothing didn't match the color described by witnesses

Posted: Monday, May 07, 2007

When police searched the hills behind Fred Meyer following the shooting death of Simone Yung Kim in 2006, they found a man in a black jacket.

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That man, Jason Coday, was accused of randomly killing Kim in what was described as Juneau's first slaying in five years.

Today, attorneys will focus in part on Coday's jacket during a hearing about defense claims that he was illegally arrested and that information from his police interrogation should be suppressed by the court.

Prosecutor Doug Gardner wrote in court records that "there is no question that the Juneau Police had probable cause to arrest Mr. Coday."

If the case moves forward, the attorneys may select a jury today and prepare for opening statements on Tuesday. The trial is expected to last 15 days.

Kim, a Korean man from Anchorage, was supposed to trim trees on Aug. 4, 2006, near the Fred Meyer building. As he discussed the job with two landscapers at about 2:45 p.m., he was approached by a man described by witnesses in court records as "clean shaven and wearing a green jacket."

The man drew a sawed-off rifle, pointed it at Kim's face, and fired, according to court records. After Kim fell to the ground, the man shot him three to four more times in the torso.

Juneau resident Ed Buyarski wrestled the Ruger from the shooter, who turned and ran into the woods behind Fred Meyer.

Police rushed to the scene, interviewing three witnesses who described a man in a green jacket. About two hours after the slaying, a police team searched through the woods. As they walked up a trail, a man with black nylon rain gear ran up behind them, Seid wrote. They ordered him to put his hands up, and he was handcuffed.

Coday, now 29, was immediately taken into custody. He was arrested on a charge of murder based on statements from people who witnessed the shooting and the attempted escape.

But Seid claims Coday was illegally arrested and that the state illegally obtained evidence, including photographs, results of photographic lineups, interrogations and searches.

In a motion to suppress evidence filed in April, Seid wrote that Coday's clothing did not match the color described by witnesses.

Seid said the custodial interrogation was illegal because the police never told Coday why he was under arrest or formally told him he was arrested. When witnesses were looking at photo lineups, one identified the shooter as someone other than Coday, Seid said.

"The court should suppress all evidence obtained as a result of the illegal arrest of Mr. Coday and the police exploitation of this illegal arrest," Seid wrote. "In addition, the court should suppress all statements made during the police interrogation and all evidence obtained as a result of the exploitation of these illegally obtained statements, including the illegal consent to search."

Gardner responded by writing that Coday was identified by the witnesses of the shooting, the man who wrestled the firearm from him and a man who claimed to see Coday running through his yard.

Police matched a pattern on Coday's shoes with tracks found near the crime scene, Gardner wrote. And he said the serial number of the gun used in the homicide matched one that Coday bought when he first arrived in Juneau.

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