Coday found guilty, attacks his attorney

Man wrestled to floor after violent reaction to verdict

Posted: Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Jason Coday, convicted of first-degree murder Tuesday in the shooting of Anchorage contractor Simone Kim, attacked his own attorney after the verdict was read.

The Juneau Superior Court room erupted in confusion as Coday, 29, rose from his chair to be escorted away then suddenly lunged at defense attorney David Seid.

Coday, cuffed at the wrists and chained at the ankles, head-butted Seid in the shoulder before two bailiffs and a police officer wrestled him to the floor.

The officers carried the bearded convict out of the courtroom past the victim's shocked and crying family.

Authorities continued struggling with Coday before manhandling him into an elevator as other officers arrived to help.

The defendant, wearing an orange jail suit, kept fighting as six men pinned him to the floor of the elevator for transport to prison.

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Seid was visibly shaken but unhurt. He said Coday glanced off his shoulder during the skirmish.

"I'm fine," he said.

The jury of eight men and four women found Coday guilty of first-degree murder and related weapons charges in the Aug. 4, 2006, slaying of Kim, a 26-year-old Anchorage painting contractor on the Fred Meyer department store remodeling project.

For no apparent reason, Coday gunned down Kim with a sawed-off .22-caliber rifle in front of two witnesses who were also working at the site north of downtown Juneau.

A drifter from Utah with a criminal record, Coday had arrived in Juneau just 48 hours before killing Kim. The victim quickly bled to death after one of three bullets partially severed a large artery.

Superior Court Judge Michael Thompson set Coday's sentencing for Aug. 10. Coday faces a maximum 99 years imprisonment for Kim's murder and up to 15 years for the weapons charge.

Thompson ordered Coday held without bail until sentencing.

The verdict came after eight hours of jury deliberation following a five-day trial. The prosecution's case included eyewitness testimony, DNA evidence and police accounts. Seid called no witnesses on Coday's behalf.

"Justice was served," juror Tammy Murphy said.

Seid said he would appeal.

Outside court, Serena Kim remembered her brother as a man who despised violence.

"He was a poet," she said. "He wrote letters to world leaders telling them how he saw the world and how he wanted to change the world."

Serena Kim said Coday could have easily shot the two people who were with her brother, but she believed Simone somehow attracted Coday's destructive anger.

"I think he wanted to take the pain for them," she said.

Before final arguments Monday, Seid rested his case without calling a single witness or offering other evidence. He said the decision was a tactical choice to lay the full burden of proof on the prosecution.

"We were surprised by that," Murphy said. "All of us would have liked to see a defense."

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



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