Cooper Landing resident pleads not guilty

Prosecutor charges homicide at three levels

Nearly three weeks after allegedly killing a man during a fight, a Cooper Landing man was given the chance to plead not guilty.

 

Appearing in Kenai Superior Court on Monday telephonically from Anchorage, where he is being held for medical examinations, Paul Andrew Vermillion, 30, plead not guilty to one count of first-degree murder, two counts second-degree murder and one count of manslaughter ­— all associated with the Dec. 5 death of a recent California transplant Genghis Muskox.

Several previous attempts to fully arraign Vermillion were derailed; one by procedure, another by a Department of Corrections “lock down” and another when prosecutor Scot Leaders argued that Vermillion’s mother was a witness and not a suitable candidate to keep watch for her son, if he were bailed.

The issue led to the bail hearing and arraignment being postponed.

The official charges from the state came on Dec. 13, two weeks after Alaska State Troopers made the original charge of a single count of first-degree murder when Vermillion called 911 to report that he’d killed Muskox, 27, during a fight.

Wednesday, Vermillion’s attorney Josh Cooley said bail still had not been discussed, but expected it to be the source of a hearing when his client returns to Kenai.

Vermillion was indicted on all levels 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 Vermillion shot Muskox multiple times.

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.

“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.

Vermillion has been in Department of Corrections custody in Anchorage for court ordered medical examinations that the defense hopes will provide evidence that he was attacked by Muskox the night of the killing, including a MRI for internal head injuries

According to a police affidavit, Vermillion said he was in a fight to the death before killing Muskox.

During the botched bail hearing Patrice Vermillion told Leaders that her son called her before the police the night of the killing and told her he was being choked during the alleged fight.

The wide array of charges delivered by the state shows that they do not know what happened in the Vermillion’s Cooper Landing home the night Muskox was killed and they don’t know how they’re going to prove their case, Cooley said.

“So they’re proposing alternative theories,” Cooley said.

 

Reach Greg Skinner at greg.skinner@peninsulaclarion.com

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