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As the deadline set by state law to begin the trial of the man accused of shooting two Hoonah police officers to death approaches, attorneys for the state of Alaska and for the defendant agree on one thing: they won't be ready for trial by that deadline.
Judge David George has rescheduled the trial of John Nick Marvin Jr. to begin Dec. 27. It was previously set to start Monday. Marvin faces two first-degree murder charges in connection with the deaths of Hoonah police officers Anthony Wallace and Matthew Tokuoka.
State law requires defendants to receive a speedy trial, and requires a trial within 120 days of being charged. In Marvin's case, that timeframe is set to lapse Dec. 29.
District Attorney Doug Gardner told Judge David George in Juneau Superior Court on Thursday that he received a Gold Streak package at Alaska Airlines from Anchorage on Monday containing roughly 600 pages of reports containing evidence pertaining to the fatal ambush-style shootings of Wallace and Tokuoka. Evidence included photographs and multiple agency law enforcement reports, while DNA and ballistic testing results are still pending.
On Tuesday, that information was given to Marvin's attorney Eric Hedland.
"Right now, based on the way DNA is being processed, the crime lab would need a at least another month to complete the testing," Gardner said. "The state will not be ready next week for the trial to start."
Hedland said his legal counsel to Marvin would be ineffective if the trial began Monday.
"It is absolutely unrealistic," said Hedland. "There would have to be some spontaneous putting of information in my head."
Hedland said Marvin, in his current mental state, could not assist with his own defense.
"Mr. Marvin wishes to expedite the trial, but I have concerns that Mr. Marvin cannot assist me due to mental issues," Hedland said. "It is a real ethical issue. What does the lawyer do when there might be a competency issue but the client doesn't want to assert that?"
George said that he appreciated Hedland's concern due to the seriousness of the case and his client's state of mind.
"If it is proven that the officers were killed in the line of duty the result is a maximum of 99 years in prison," George said.
"I will tell the court there was a discussion about that," Hedland said. "Mr. Marvin wants to expedite things and not continue."
At that point Marvin said, "I don't want disorder. I want this to orderly continue and expedite in an orderly fashion. ... I was very upset about the shooting."
Gardner said the case's high stakes required a well thought out decision for a trial date and a lot of witnesses in the state and throughout the country will have to be called.
A hearing on allowing the trial date to begin after the 120-day deadline has passed is scheduled for Tuesday. Hedland said he doubted he could begin a trial even by January or February and was hoping for June or July.
Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.