Bail stands for accused in Wigen case

Defense attorney says he expects his client to be indicted today

Posted: Thursday, May 27, 2004

The man charged with killing Margaret "Maggie" Wigen last year would have had barely enough time in court Wednesday to remove his handcuffs - if he hadn't been ordered to stay shackled.

James D. Harmon, 25, appeared before Juneau District Magistrate John W. Sivertsen for a hearing scheduled to review his bail. Last week, Sivertsen ordered Harmon to be held in lieu of $750,000 cash bail.

Defense attorney Louis Menendez said he didn't wish to proceed on the hearing he had requested to review the bail amount, but expected there would be a grand jury indictment against his client today. He said he will revisit the bail issue.

Harmon was charged with five felonies, including first-degree murder and first-degree sexual assault, in the death of Wigen, 19, in Tenakee Springs.

Wigen's body was found buried near her cabin on April 1, 2003, by a community member continuing the search that Alaska State Troopers had suspended.

Harmon was brought in from the Lemon Creek Correctional Center for Wednesday's scheduled hearing. Before saying he didn't wish to proceed, Menendez asked if his client's handcuffs could be removed.

"I defer to judicial services on such issues," Sivertsen said, noting that the officers who brought Harmon into court preferred the handcuffs stay on.

Menendez asked if Harmon was "such a danger they want my client in handcuffs?" He said he wanted to make the point for the record.

Juneau District Attorney Patrick Gullufsen said, "for the record, Mr. Harmon being in handcuffs did not inhibit communication with his lawyer."

Menendez said he would have to take up the matter in Superior Court, where felony proceedings would take place if it is determined that there is probable cause for the charges.

Sivertsen scheduled a probable cause hearing for Friday. At that hearing, both sides would present their case, and the district court judge would determine if the case would be remanded to Superior Court.

Menendez told Sivertsen, though, that he expected his client to be in Superior Court Friday. He said he expects the closed grand jury will indict Harmon today, depriving him of the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses.

He also told Sivertsen he would take the bail issue to Superior Court, where he plans to request a hearing and subpoena witnesses.

Troopers arrested Harmon on Thursday in Juneau. He also is charged with second-degree theft from Wigen and two counts of first-degree attempted sexual assault, against Wigen and another Tenakee Springs woman, after a New Year's Eve party four months before Wigen was killed.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at

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