After hearing the alleged victim’s and the defendant’s accounts of a September incident, a Kenai Superior Court jury found a Tyonek man accused of kidnapping and assault not guilty of all charges on Friday.
The state had alleged Virgil McCord, 37, had beaten his then girlfriend, Valerie Sigourney, 44, of Anchorage, on Sept. 20, 2013 in Tyonek. It charged him with kidnapping and two felony assault charges as well as two misdemeanor charges — fourth-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal mischief.
Public Defender Andy Pevehouse called two witnesses Friday, McCord’s grandfather, who appeared telephonically, and the defendant.
McCord told the jury about his relationship with Sigourney, saying he had liked that Sigourney was active, sweet and loved kids. But he said they had arguments about her drinking, and he didn’t like when she spent time with certain people in the village because they influenced her drinking. He said he also had an issue with the amount of attention she gave to one of her friend’s husbands, but he wasn’t jealous.
Then Pevehouse questioned McCord about the September incident. McCord said he picked Sigourney up from her friend’s home to go for a drive and to go moose hunting. He said she had started drinking at her friend’s house and brought a bottle of whiskey with for the drive. McCord testified he had a little bit to drink but not enough to get drunk or even buzzed, but he said Sigourney became intoxicated.
McCord said it was getting dark when the couple got into an argument about Sigourney’s drinking. He thought she drank too much. He said she asked him to take her home. He testified he said “OK” and planned to turn around at the airstrip about half of a mile ahead. Before he got there, he said Sigourney jumped out of the pickup while he was driving. He said he tried to stop her by grabbing her sweatshirt.
“When my arm popped out (of its socket), I let go,” he said.
McCord said he had little mobility in his right arm.
He testified that he thought he put the pickup in park and got out after Sigourney, who had jumped out of the truck and was lying in the road. But the truck wasn’t in park so he tried to go after it, and it got stuck in the ditch. McCord said when he got to Sigourney she looked knocked out. He said he called her name a few times and when she came to, they went back to the truck.
McCord said he wanted to stay in the truck overnight because there are a lot of bears in Tyonek and with his injured arm he wouldn’t be able to use his gun. He said Sigourney didn’t argue about staying in the truck.
In her testimony on Tuesday, Sigourney said McCord had begun hitting her while he was driving and that’s why she jumped out of the pickup. She also said after the truck went in the ditch, McCord choked her and pointed his rifle at her threatening to kill her. She said she didn’t want to stay in the truck overnight.
McCord said he never pointed his gun at Sigourney and he didn’t do anything to make her stay in the truck.
“Have you ever laid a hand on (Sigourney)?” Pevehouse asked.
“No, I (have) not,” McCord said.
In her closing argument Assistant District Attorney Kelly Lawson asked the jury why someone would jump out of a moving truck.
“There must have been something really horrible going on inside that truck,” she said.
She spoke about Sigourney’s glasses, which were broken down the middle that night, and echoed Sigourney’s testimony that the glasses were broken on purpose by McCord.
Pevehouse in his closing argument submitted to the jury that when looking at all the evidence, Sigourney, when she jumped out of the pickup, hit her right side on the ground. He argued that her glasses twisted and broke when her head hit the road. He argued the sleeve on end of the glasses that hooks over the ear slide off because it was pinned between her head and the road.
“Nothing in the physical evidence supports (Sigourney’s) story,” he said.
Pevehouse submitted to the jury that Sigourney came up with the domestic violence story because she felt foolish about having jumped out of a moving vehicle.
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.