Utah man charged in local murder

Anchorage man shot on hill Friday near Fred Meyer

Posted: Sunday, August 06, 2006

Less than three hours after a 26-year-old Anchorage man was fatally shot Friday afternoon, police found the person they believe killed him hiding in the brush near the scene of the assault.

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Jason Michael Coday, a 28-year-old man who recently arrived in town from Utah, according to Juneau Police Capt. Jerry Nankervis, was arraigned on a first-degree murder charge Saturday morning. Sitka Magistrate Bruce Horton, appearing in a Juneau courtroom by telephone, set Coday's bail at $1 million in what is the first Juneau death to be prosecuted as a murder since 2000.

Coday is charged with fatally shooting Simone Kim. The shooting was reported at 2:46 p.m. Friday near Glacier Highway behind the Fred Meyer store. Capital City Fire and Rescue found Kim with multiple gunshot wounds and took him to Bartlett Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Nankervis said.

Police searched the area on the uphill side of Glacier Highway, blocking off the area from traffic beyond the turnoff to Fred Meyer, assisted by helicopters and an Alaska State Trooper.

Members of the department's Special Emergency Response Team found Coday hiding in the dense brush of a lot cleared behind the store shortly after 5:30 p.m., Nankervis said. Coday matched the description they were given for the shooter. After questioning him at the station, police charged Coday with first-degree murder and lodged at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center.

Juneau District Attorney Doug Gardner requested the $1 million cash bail, arguing that there was an extreme risk of Coday fleeing if he were to be released. Before Coday could post the bail, the court would have to approve a someone to watch him to make sure he follows his release conditions.

Under Alaska law, first-degree murder carries a possible sentence of 20 to 99 years in prison.

Saturday night, the motive for the shooting remained unclear. It was also unknown what, if any, connection the shooting suspect and the dead man share or what they were doing in Juneau.

Coday's next court appearance is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Tuesday in Juneau District Court. Police have scheduled an 11 a.m. news conference to answer questions about the case.

The last death to be prosecuted as a murder in Juneau occurred in the early hours of Jan. 25, 2000, when Kenneth Ike Thomas was fatally beaten at a trailer on Village Street downtown. Last fall, Ronald Smith was found guilty of second-degree murder and assault in a second trial and was resentenced to 85 years in prison.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.

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