The family of Genghis Muskox, the victim in a Dec. 5, 2013 shooting in Cooper Landing, cannot fathom that Paul Vermillion, accused of Muskox’s murder, is out on bail less than two months later.
Kenai Superior Court Judge Charles Huguelet granted Vermillion, 30, be released under the watch of a third party custodian on a $1 million cash performance bond on Jan. 22 at the Kenai Courthouse.
Vermillion is charged with first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and one count of manslaughter. Vermillion, an Iraq War veteran, has pleaded not guilty and claimed self-defense in the killing of Muskox.
Susan Muskat, the victim’s mother said she was disappointed to learn that Alaska State Law does not hold murder suspects without bail. Given the fact that Vermillion has suffered an injury in the war, she is concerned he will not be punished to the extend she feels he deserves.
“I do have some compassion for him,” she said. “People should not be sent off and experience the horrors of war. There have been so many cases of soldiers coming back and committing violence. “
Muskat, who lives in Minnesota, said it was at a Jan. 15 bail hearing, which she attended telephonically, when she heard new details that her son was attacked with an ice pick during the night of the murder.
“We were shocked to hear that,” she said. “Before we saw our son’s body we were warned in advance he suffered extraordinary trauma, but we didn’t know how he was attacked.”
Muskox’s friend Jenna Miller also spoke at the bail hearing about a previous altercation between the two men where Vermillion allegedly threatened Muskox with a gun.
Muskat said she wants people to understand her son was not a violent person and never sought out conflict.
“He went back in friendship,” she said. “He had no weapons and did not go to fight.”
At the Jan. 15 hearing, the court approved Gregory Thompson as third party custodian, but postponed bail until a GPS tracking monitor could be obtained.
The court approved Denali Electronic Monitoring Services out of Palmer to fit Vermillion with an ankle-bracelet. Denali EMS owner Heather Betts said they will be aware of Vermillion’s location at all times and would be alerted if he goes outside of his exclusion zone.
Thompson is a friend of the Vermillion family who lives in Houston in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. As custodian, he is to be the eyes and ears of the court and must ensure the defendant abides by all court-ordered conditions while in his supervision. Vermillion will be staying at Thompson’s house while awaiting trial.
The court ordered Vermillion stay within the Wasilla area with the exception of traveling to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and to Kenai for further court dates. Huguelet defined the exclusion area as north of Healy and east of Sutton.
Patrice Vermillion, the defendant’s mother, posted 10 of $1 million percent appearance bond, including a $50,000 cash performance for Vermillion to be released from jail.
Vermillion testified he never owned a passport, therefore could not turn one in. Under the conditions of the court, Vermillion is not allowed near Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and firearms and alcohol are not permitted in Thompson’s house.
The court allowed Vermillion to work with Thompson on his properties in Houston and Lake Louise.
John Cox, Muskox’s father, said he is concerned about Vermillion’s mental stability.
“No one person can watch someone who went berserk,” he said. “My biggest disappointment with all this how his parents did nothing while this disabled vet drank himself into a stupor and had access to loaded weapons.”
Vermillion lived in a house owned by his parents in Cooper Landing where the fight occurred. In the police affidavit, Vermillion called 911 and stated, “I killed somebody.”
According to the affidavit, a trooper arrived at the scene and found Muskox deceased with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the head. After receiving his Miranda advisement, Vermillion said, “I was in a fight to the death and I executed the threat.”
Vermillion is due back in court Feb. 7 at the Kenai Courthouse.
Muskat said her son, who moved to Alaska last spring from California was adventurous and liked to take risks and challenge himself. She said he loved to be outdoors, fish and be self-sufficient. She said Muskox called her four days prior to his death and sounded happy.
“He had just moved into a cabin ready for the winter,” she said. “He had plans to do a lot more. He was looking to get settled and loved life.”
Editor’s note: Jenna Miller was employed at The Clarion at the time of Genghis Muskox’s death.
Dan Balmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org