Jury deliberates in Coday murder trial

Defense rests case without calling any witnesses

Posted: Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Moments after court began Monday, defense attorney David Seid rested his case in the Jason Coday murder trial without calling a witness or offering evidence.

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The jury of eight men and four women began deliberation shortly before 11 a.m. The jury worked 5½ hours before breaking for the evening. They begin a second day of deliberation in Juneau Superior Court today.

Coday, 29, is charged with the Aug. 4, 2006, murder of Simone Kim, an Anchorage painting contractor working on the lengthy Fred Meyer department store remodeling project.

Coday is accused of shooting Kim three times with a sawed-off .22-caliber rifle, without provocation. Coday faces up to 99 years in prison if convicted of first-degree murder .

Twice Monday, the jury asked clarifying questions of Superior Court Judge Michael Thompson.

At one point, after being asked to replay testimony from a police witness, the court clerk mistakenly forwarded the jury a pretrial statement from Juneau Police Lt. Troy Wilson.

The mistake prompted Seid to move for mistrial on grounds the jury had heard pretrial testimony.

The judge denied Seid's motion. He acknowledged that the jury should not have heard the statement, but he ruled that the information was not prejudicial. Thompson ordered the jury to disregard the information.

The court clerk said the incident was a "clerical error."

Defense and prosecution presented closing arguments before the jury went into deliberation.

Coday was directly identified by seven witnesses, District Attorney Doug Gardner said.

"That man is a stone cold killer who gunned down Simone Kim," the prosecutor said.

Seid countered: "Witnesses say he is the guy. Police say he is the guy; but the evidence tells you this is not the guy."

Seid, in his closing argument, maintained that Coday was a victim of mistaken identity. He said witnesses gave different descriptions and were pressed to single out Coday from police lineups.

The defense offered two other points: No one actually saw Coday take the murder weapon from Rayco Sales before it was used to kill Kim; and the hacksaw Coday allegedly used to shorten the .22-caliber rifle was never found.

A state scientific witness testified there was a one-in-71 billion chance that Coday was wrongfully identified by DNA traces on the alleged murder weapon, adding that Coday could be convicted on the DNA evidence alone.

• Greg Skinner can be reached at greg.skinner@juneauempire.com.

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