Shopping center slaying: Judge rules that Coday was legally arrested

Jury selection to begin today as trial proceeds

Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A judge on Monday denied defense claims that Jason Coday was illegally arrested after the slaying of Simone Kim in 2006.

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Jury selection was scheduled to proceed today.

After a day of testimony from witnesses and police, Superior Court Judge Michael Thompson sided with the prosecution in saying that police acted appropriately in detaining and interrogating the suspect in Juneau's first homicide in five years.

Coday, 29, had been stopped in the woods behind Fred Meyer department store after an Anchorage man working at the site was shot to death on Aug. 4.

Police interrogated Coday and said eyewitnesses identified him. They linked the firearm used in the shooting to one that Coday took from Rayco Sales two days earlier.

"I'm reasonably satisfied there was probable cause to arrest Mr. Coday when he was in the woods," Thompson said.

During the hearing, witnesses described the slaying and the manhunt that followed.

Kim, 26, a painting contractor from Anchorage, had been discussing tree-trimming with landscapers when Coday walked up to him.

He had time to say, "What the ...," when a man in dark rain gear shot him in the face with a sawed-off .22-caliber rifle.

Landscaper Ed Buyarski and a teenage employee were stunned as Kim crumpled to the ground.

"He went down, kind of in a crouch, hands to his face," Buyarski said.

The shooter then fired more shots into Kim. The man backed off and stood there with the firearm in his hands, witnesses said.

Buyarski acted.

"I went over to the shooter, put my two hands on the gun and took it away from him," Buyarski said.

The man fled into the woods, running past a duplex and out of sight. A few hours later, a team of police in camouflage found Coday and detained him.

Defense attorney David Seid argued that Coday should not have been arrested, in part because he wore a black jacket - witnesses had said the shooter wore a green jacket.

Also, Seid argued that the teenage landscaper initially identified the shooter as someone other than Coday in a photo lineup.

But Thompson said the arrest was reasonable because of Coday's location. And Thompson gave greater weight to Buyarski's identification of Coday because he took the firearm out of the shooter's hands.

"That ought to be enough for most people," Thompson said.

• Ken Lewis can be reached at ken.lewis@juneauempire.com.



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