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Jurors convict Hoonah man of police-officer murder

Posted: November 3, 2012 - 8:24pm  |  Updated: November 3, 2012 - 8:29pm

JUNEAU — Jurors on Saturday convicted a Hoonah man of first-degree murder in the deaths of two police officers in 2010 that sent shock waves throughout the state.

John Marvin Jr. faced murder and weapons charges in the deaths of Hoonah Police Sgt. Anthony Wallace, 32, and Officer Matthew Tokuoka, 39. The two were gunned down in front of Marvin’s home in the village of Hoonah on Aug. 28, 2010. The weapons charges were dismissed.

Marvin, 47, had no reaction as the verdict was read early Saturday afternoon. Wallace’s mother, Debbie Greene, and Tokuoka’s widow, Haley, sitting just behind Marvin, wept with relief. None of Marvin’s relatives were present.

Sentencing was tentatively set for Feb. 1. Marvin could spend the rest of his life in prison.

The case shook Hoonah, a village of about 750 people, and galvanized the law enforcement community; the officers’ memorial was televised statewide. Members of the Juneau Police Department were among those in the courtroom to hear the verdict Saturday.

District Attorney David Brower told reporters the case was the probably the most complicated one he’s dealt with in his career.

During trial, Brower argued that Marvin had held a grudge against the officers after a 2009 run-in that left Marvin beaten up.

That incident stemmed from a trespassing call and led to charges against Marvin that were ultimately dismissed. Brower said Marvin had killed the men “in cold blood,” and said bullets used or found matched a rifle in Marvin’s home.

Defense attorney Eric Hedland called the state’s case circumstantial, and said no one saw who fired the shots.

The jury consisted of 10 men and two women in a trial that began last week; the jury got the case late Thursday and began deliberations Friday. Greene and Haley Tokuoka were a constant presence in the courtroom, clutching hands and breaking down at times. Marvin sat beside Hedland, sometimes whispering things to him, other times flipping through document and legal books or listening to the testimony.

He did not take the stand in his own defense, telling Superior Court Judge David George, “I will remain silent.”

Hedland, in opening arguments, said Marvin “suffers from a serious mental disability.” That was never fully explained at trial, though Hedland said that, over time, Marvin became increasingly isolated and exhibited odd behavior. The prosecution maintained that Marvin was changed by the 2009 incident, but Hedland argued that if he truly held a grudge, why would he wait until that day — more than a year after the run-in and months after his release in jail — to act?

On the night of the shooting, the Tokuokas had stopped at a trash bin near Marvin’s home to get rid of scraps from a crab feast that night. Haley Tokuoka testified she saw Marvin through the window of his home, slamming a dark object, which she said looked like a military ammunition container. She said she told her husband “it looks like John Marvin is going crazy.”

Her husband told her not to look over there or draw attention to them. Then Wallace pulled behind the couple’s vehicle, jokingly flashing his lights and sounding the siren on his police car. His mother, in from out-of-town, was on a ride-along with him.

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