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Bail hearing gets heated

Prosecutor impounds car of accused's mother

Posted: December 11, 2013 - 10:45pm
Photo by Greg Skinner/Peninsula Clarion  State Investigator Mark Pearson watches over the impounding of Patrice Vermillion's car at the Public Defenders office in Kenai on Wednesday. The state impounded the car after claiming a right to what they say is a note containing evidence against her son for the alleged murder of Genghis Muskox in Cooper Landing on Dec. 5.
Photo by Greg Skinner/Peninsula Clarion State Investigator Mark Pearson watches over the impounding of Patrice Vermillion's car at the Public Defenders office in Kenai on Wednesday. The state impounded the car after claiming a right to what they say is a note containing evidence against her son for the alleged murder of Genghis Muskox in Cooper Landing on Dec. 5.

The race to collect evidence for a pending murder trial turned a bail hearing sour Tuesday when the prosecutor hounded the defendant’s mother for evidence as she testified on her ability to watch over her son if he were released on bail — and then an officer followed her out to her car.

Prior to that, defense attorneys expressed concern that the body of Genghis Muskox was cremated before they had a chance to request it kept as key evidence and then pushed to have their defendant, Paul Andrew Vermillion, 30, examined by a doctor for evidence of brain trauma that they say occurred when Muskox attacked him the night of the alleged murder.

“There is evidence inside his head,” said lead public defender Josh Cooley.

The question of bail was not answered before being reset for a Monday hearing.

Vermillion stands accused by police of first-degree murder for the Dec. 5 shooting death of Muskox in the Vermillion family’s Cooper Landing home — they live full time in Anchorage. Police say the two fought before Paul Vermillion shot Muskox multiple times.

Kenai District Attorney Scot Leaders has yet to indict Vermillion for any charge regarding Muskox’s death. Vermillion has yet to be asked to enter a plea.

According to a police affidavit, Vermillion reported Muskox’s death by calling 911 at 1:57 a.m. While on the phone with police dispatchers, Vermillion admitted to killing Muskox but did not say how. When police arrived, they say Vermillion said “yes” when asked if he killed Muskox; again there was no disclosure of how he killed him.

“I executed the threat,” Vermillion, a disabled Iraq veteran, allegedly told police after telling them that he was attacked by Muskox.

Authorities said that Muskox was shot several times, including twice in the head.

With Muskox’s body released to the family and cremated by Dec. 7, two days after the alleged murder, Cooley asked the judge order that the state not “destroy” any more evidence or conduct any crime lab tests until a future agreement was reached.

The defense also sought a guarantee that Vermillion would be transported to a doctor, of their choosing, for an examination for evidence of a concussion and brain trauma they believe occurred the night of the killing.

Asking for an MRI scan for the third day in a row, Cooley said there is evidence that Vermillion was attacked and that he was the real victim. That evidence is fading, he said.

“Inside his head there is evidence that he was assaulted by the alleged victim,” Cooley said.

Kenai District Court Judge Sharon Illsley ordered that the Department of Corrections and the defense team work together to ensure the MRI was done in a timely manner.

During the failed bail hearing, Leaders pushed Patrice Vermillion, mother of the defendant, to admit that her son told to her, as she talked to him by phone that night before police arrived on scene, that he’d shot Muskox. Leaders presented his scenario several times during his chance to question Patrice Vermillion on her ability to serve as third-party custodian, if her son was released on bail.

“I don’t know what happened,” Patrice Vermillion said. “He said he blacked out.”

Cooley objected multiple times saying Leaders should not turn a bail hearing into one of evidence discovery.

“Move on,’ Judge Illsley told Leaders after his third attempt to persuade Patrice Vermillion to say her son confessed that he shot Muskox.

Leaders argued that his line of questions were relevant because a witness for either side can not be a third-party custodian to a defendant out on bail. That conversation with her son could make Patrice Vermillion a witness, he argued.

With the investigation into Muskox’s death ongoing and no indictment proffered, Leaders could not say if Patrice Vermillion would be a witness.

Judge Illsley decided to push the bail hearing following a heated conference on the matter with the defense and prosecution.

Admitting she was nervous and asking the court if she should even answer Leaders’ questions, Patrice Vermillion said she had made a note of the conversation with her son, which Leaders keyed in on, asking for the note’s location. Upon learning the note was in her car at the Office of the Public Defender, Leaders pressed Patrice Vermillion to provide it to him.

With the bail hearing over, defense attorney William “Bill” Taylor advised Patrice Vermillion that she did not have to answer Leaders’ questions, or provide the note.

“You have a right to an attorney,” Taylor warned before he and the defense team escorted Patrice Vermillion across the street to the public defender’s office. As she walked, at least one Alaska State Trooper followed close by asking questions until Taylor stepped between them to intervene and then lead Patrice Vermillion into the private office, where police could not follow.

After calling in license plates for the cars in the parking lot to determine which was Patrice Vermillion’s, police raced to block the Toyota truck in place and stood guard so that no one could enter it.

Cooley stepped out of the office and into a heated debate with state investigator Mark Pearson saying that the note Patrice Vermillion referred to was written at his behest and therefore police had no right to seize his work as evidence.

Explaining how “it will play out,” Pearson said the pickup was impounded and a search warrant sought. When Cooley asked if the investigators would inform the judge that they were asking for the work of an attorney as evidence, the troopers said they could not guarantee that his wish could be conveyed.

Police took the truck and with it Patrice Vermillion’s drivers license, money and coat. She’s from Anchorage and stuck here with nothing, she can’t even fly home, Cooley said.

Another state investigator, who refused to give his name, warned Cooley that the whole incident could have been avoided if they’d done what Leaders asked.

Reach Greg Skinner at greg.skinner@peninsulaclarion.com.

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kenai_bill
8
Points
kenai_bill 12/12/13 - 11:42 am
3
1
Too Far

Is the mother the murderer? Based on how she is being treated it would appear to be so.

Suss
2961
Points
Suss 12/13/13 - 01:19 am
2
1
Mom needs a lawyer

Mom needs her own attorney to keep from getting into further trouble because of the risky or bad advice she may have been given. Her interests are seperate from her son's and are not to be as confused as this article protrays. I wish this Veteran all the best care and the very best of medical and legal assistance. Please remember our returning vets that come home less than whole need our extra support.

timalaska
4
Points
timalaska 12/12/13 - 07:00 pm
0
0
Accessory to a Crime........

Had it ever occurred to all of you....that this woman is with holding evidence in a Capital Murder case??? I want to applaud the State Troopers for their actions in this case....
along with the Judge & the Prosecutor for Not allowing this person out on bail...or putting up with the "mother" lying about her knowledge of this crime....and I hope they prosecute her for "Lying" to Law enforcement....which btw is a prosecutable crime.....

Btadams
3
Points
Btadams 12/12/13 - 09:09 pm
1
1
TimAlaska is dead wrong

Alaska doesn't have capital murder. And the State has restrictions on how it gathers and uses evidence. I'm glad you have convicted the man already but perhaps the community at large won't be so quick to sacrifice freedom.

Seafarer
1147
Points
Seafarer 12/13/13 - 11:38 am
0
0
Leaders Violates 4th Amendment

Mr. Leaders needs to recuse himself from this or face disbarment. How he treated Vermillion's mother is inexcusable and illegal search and seizure. What a maroon the guy is. Following her to her car? Clear violation of her 4th Amendment rights!

Suss
2961
Points
Suss 12/13/13 - 01:31 pm
0
0
Seafarer Law?

Seafarer could you please show how following the mom was illegal? That would really help in court for anyone that has been followed. Really, I think you could help many people if they knew what you are referring to.

Seafarer
1147
Points
Seafarer 12/14/13 - 11:28 am
0
0
My People Have A Saying, Suss...

It goes like this: Obtain a Search Warrant!!!!!

Suss
2961
Points
Suss 12/27/13 - 07:55 am
1
0
Seafarer....“it will play out,” next bail hearing.

"Pearson said the pickup was impounded and a search warrant sought".

It seems that is what happened, they seized the truck and sought a search warrant. The mom did not cough up the note when asked. She did tell them where the note was so they grabbed it up. Much drama over mom's notes. Who knows what was written, if it was a "BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY" phone call, or if it will even really matter? Sad storyline all the way around. Many victims beside Genghis Muskox in this Cooper Landing caper. Holiday homicides are the saddest, they tend to have longer lasting impacts associated with a season that was meant to be joyful.
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RNoPdAq666g&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DRNoP...

Trevor Kauffman
2
Points
Trevor Kauffman 12/21/13 - 02:13 pm
0
0
Amateur Hour

This sounds like a bad TV courtroom drama. Impounding the vehicle without a warrant is a brazen violation of Ms. Vermillion's 4th amendment rights. Did the officers somehow get a warrant on the spot in order to impound her vehicle?

Furthermore, Mr. Leaders could have avoided all of this nonsense simply by stating that he would be seeking a warrant for the note. After admitting that the note was in her car, Ms. Vermillion would have been guilty of destroying evidence should it turn up missing later. As it stands, Mr. Leaders has put himself in a position where it seems he has violated Ms. Vermillion's 4th amendment rights.. which could get the evidence thrown out, in the unlikely case that the note is actually useful.

I should mention that my opinion is only valid if this article accurately reflects the events that transpired in Kenai. Hopefully this is solid journalism. It'll be interesting to see what comes of it all.

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