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Trial for Tyonek domestic violence case begins

Alleged victim called to the stand

Posted: January 1, 2014 - 8:24pm  |  Updated: January 2, 2014 - 6:00pm

A Kenai Superior Court Jury heard testimony from three of the state’s witnesses in a domestic violence case, including the alleged victim, on Tuesday.

Virgil McCord, Jr., 37, of the Native village of Tyonek, faces a kidnapping charge as well as two felony assault charges in the second and third degrees and two misdemeanor charges — fourth-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal mischief.

Jury selection for the trial began on Monday carrying over to Tuesday morning until testimonies began just prior to noon. Following the testimony of an Alaska State Trooper and a friend of the alleged victim, Valerie Sigourney, 44, of Anchorage, the alleged victim in the case, answered to questions from the state and the defense for more than one hour.

Sigourney outlined her relationship with McCord saying that they began dating in May 2013 and she moved from Anchorage into the house he shared with family in Tyonek that same month, but the two had known each other prior to their romantic relationship. She said he was charming, sweet and cordial when Public Defender Andy Pevehouse asked what she had liked about McCord.

The alleged abuse happened the night of Sept. 20, 2013. Sigourney recalled how, at first, the couple was having a great time during her testimony. They had gone moose hunting and were driving and listening to music and sharing a bottle of whiskey. But then McCord got agitated because they had passed her ex’s family bridge.

“He was very jealous,” she said.

While driving his pickup with his left hand, McCord hit Sigourney with his right hand and called her names, she testified as she began to cry. Sigourney jumped out of the moving pickup because she didn’t want McCord to hit her anymore, she said.

When asked by Assistant District Attorney Kelly Lawson what happened next, Sigourney said McCord got out after her but forgot to put the truck in park. He went after the truck, which went into the ditch. Then he went after her yelling at her that it was her fault, she said.

She said she tried to get into the passenger side of the truck, but she fell out and McCord came around yelling at her.

“The next thing I know, he was on top of me, and he was choking me,” she said, as more tears fell and her voice cracked. “I couldn’t breathe. And he wouldn’t stop it. It seemed like it went on forever, and I remember I just wanted to breathe.”

She said she tried to get him off of her, and she blacked out a couple times. At one point, she said, he began kicking her and calling her names.

Eventually he stopped and acting like nothing happened, she said, he told her to get into the truck, and they did.

She said McCord got agitated again and she said she told him she didn’t want to be with him.

“And that’s when he grabbed the rifle and said, ‘... We’ll (expletive) take care of this right now,’ and … he pointed it at me,” she said. “And he said I’ll (expletive) kill you.”

She apologized and begged him to stop, she said. She tried to leave the truck a few times later when she thought McCord was sleeping, but he had his hand on the rifle and she was afraid, she said.

In the morning, after staying in the truck all night, McCord’s pickup was pulled out of the ditch. Shortly after they got back to the house, Sigourney said her friend picked her up and called 911.

While questioning Sigourney, Pevehouse asked her what happened to McCord’s right arm or shoulder.

She said she wasn’t sure but she thought it was injured when he was chasing the truck as it rolled down the hill and she recalled seeing a door slam. She said she didn’t know how bad he was hurt or whether his arm was functioning.

“But didn’t you testify that he was choking you after he hurt his arm?” Pevehouse said.

“I don’t know. His arm was fine, if he was choking me with both of his hands,” Sigourney said.

In her testimony, Sigourney said she did not get a forensic examination of her injuries.

According to the trooper report, Sigourney had dried blood on her ear, and abrasions and bruises on her face and body. Petechia — red or purple spots from hemorrhaged blood vessels — was in both of her eyes, according to the report.

Troopers serving the Soldotna post, fly into Tyonek located northwest across Cook Inlet from Nikiski, to respond to incidents there, Trooper Ryan Tennis, said in his testimony. Tennis interviewed Sigourney telephonically and two other troopers flew to Tyonek to further investigate the incident. The village does not have any other law enforcement. Tennis, who has responded to incidents in Tyonek a handful of times, estimates about 150 to 250 people live in the village depending on the season.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the extreme remoteness of Native communities makes it difficult to provide services to victims in those areas. Findings from the Alaska Victimization Survey in the Kenai Peninsula Borough conducted by the University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center and State of Alaska Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault show 43 percent of women have experience intimate partner violence — physical violence or threats — in their lifetimes.

If convicted of kidnapping, McCord faces at least five years of jail time but not more than 99 years.

McCord is jailed at Wildwood Pretrial Facility.

 

Kaylee Osowski can be reached at kaylee.osowski@peninsulaclarion.com.

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