Trial for Angoon killing begins

Prosecutor says Sitka jury to start Starr case deliberations within week

Posted: Wednesday, September 22, 2004

SITKA - Denni Starr screamed and begged the father of her children not to die on the day she is accused of stabbing him in their Angoon home, a state investigator said Tuesday during the first full day of testimony in the second-degree murder trial.

Investigator Janet Schied of the Alaska Bureau of Investigation said that when officers responded to the alleged stabbing of Richard "Buddy" George Jr., they found Starr screaming, "Buddy. Buddy. You can't die."

Schied's statement came during cross-examination by Assistant Public Advocate Steve Wells, when he asked her whether Starr appeared to care about her domestic partner.

Starr, now 24, pleaded innocent in the case. George, 27, died after a kitchen knife to the back on July 26, 2003, penetrated his lungs and pulmonary artery, prosecutors said.

District Attorney Patrick Gullufsen, of Juneau, said he will present a number of witnesses from Angoon today and may finish presenting his case within four days. Wells said he expects the jury of nine women and three men may get the case and begin deliberations in a week.

So far, an eyewitness to the stabbing, the first Alaska State Trooper on the scene, a fingerprint expert, a medical examiner and two state investigators have testified for the prosecution.

Wells said of Starr's case, "As time goes by, we are bringing out her side. We are looking forward to getting this case to the jury to make the appropriate decision."

Wells has indicated he will argue that Starr was abused and that he would use an Anchorage clinical psychologist as an expert witness about how domestic violence affected her.

The couple's two children at the time of George's death were 6 years old and 17 months old. Alaska State Troopers reported that they believed Starr stabbed George as he tried to leave the home with the 17-month-old.

The children have stayed mostly with a maternal grandmother, the attorneys said.

Juneau Superior Court Judge Larry Weeks, who is hearing the trial in Sitka, moved it there from Angoon after prosecutors agreed to a request by the defense. Gullufsen agreed that many in the town of 500, on Admiralty Island between Juneau and Sitka, would either be related to the couple or know them personally.

In accepting the move, he noted that Alaska courts have reversed guilty verdicts in small communities in which the defendant and victim were well-known.

While arguing for the change of venue last spring, Wells wrote that George's relatives had attacked Starr's reputation in Angoon by saying she was "a murderer deserving of a great deal of jail time."

Relatives of George and Starr were in the courtroom Tuesday.

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