A Kenai jury concluded Thursday that Loreese "Loree" Hennagin may fairly be presumed dead, though her body has not been found since she disappeared four years ago.
The jury concluded that Hennagin, of Kenai, was murdered.
A Kodiak jury convicted Rocky Nestor Seaman, 43, of Nikiski, in November of conspiring to kidnap and murder Hennagin. That jury was unable to reach a verdict on the first-degree murder charge against Seaman. Conspiracy to kidnap, a Class A felony, normally carries a sentence of five to 20 years. Conspiracy to murder, an unclassified felony, carries a sentence of five to 99 years.
However, Seaman would receive a 70-year sentence under an agreement negotiated with the state, said Kenai District Attorney Dwayne McConnell. In return, Seaman would waive his rights to appeal his convictions in the Hennagin case and end his appeal of previous convictions on drug charges, McConnell said. The agreement still requires court approval during Seaman's April 13 sentencing hearing.
McConnell said Seaman's attorney had suggested that Seaman would disclose the location of Hennagin's body in return for a 10-year reduction to his sentence, leaving him just 60 years in prison. However, McConnell said, Seaman did not disclose the location of her body, so the 10-year sentence reduction was stricken from the agreement. Cindy Strout, Seaman's attorney, declined to comment on that part of the deal.
McConnell said that as part of the agreement with Seaman, he will dismiss pending charges against Seaman's mother, Joan "Avis" McGahan, 64, of Anchorage and Nikiski. McGahan is charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to kidnap and murder Hennagin. McGahan already has dropped an appeal of her conviction in a previous drug case, McConnell said. He will not dismiss the McGahan murder and conspiracy charges until Seaman's sentence is final.
Karen Wilson, Hennagin's mother, said she had heard of the proposed deal.
"I think it's horrible," she said. "That's an extra-dangerous woman they're going to be letting loose. I just don't feel that someone should be able to have someone murdered and walk away from it scot-free."
Kathaleen Wilson, Hennagin's sister, had a stronger reaction.
"I think she should rot in jail," Kathaleen said.
However, McConnell said the agreement will keep Seaman, whom he believes committed the murder, in jail for the rest of his life.
He said he agreed not to prosecute McGahan after watching Seaman's trial unfold.
"I made a prosecutorial decision that given the expenditure involved and the evidence I could present against her was weaker than the evidence I could present against Seaman, that this was a good decision," he said.
Kenai Police Sgt. Chuck Kopp told the jury in Thursday's presumptive death hearing that Hennagin was last seen seen alive on Oct. 9, 1996, in Kenai. He alleged that Hennagin was murdered in revenge for a burglary she, her mother and Rusty Seaman, Rocky's brother and Hennagin's boyfriend, made of McGahan's Anchorage home. The burglars stole cocaine, jewelry and cash, he said.
Outside the courtroom, Kopp said Anchorage police investigated the burglary, but McGahan was uncooperative and the district attorney declined to prosecute the case.
Kopp told the jury that McGahan and Rocky Seaman asked Jeffrey Lackey, 41, of Anchorage, to help them recover the stolen cocaine. On Oct. 8, 1996, Lackey came to Kenai, Kopp said.
"Rocky Seaman, Avis McGahan and Jeff Lackey discussed what to do and how to recover the cocaine ..." Kopp said. "During this time, Mr. Seaman did give Mr. Lackey a gun and twine and told him to 'do what you have to do to get her out in the open.'"
On Oct. 9, 1996, Lackey spotted Hennagin's car and followed her to Kmart, Kopp said. He pretended to have run into her accidentally and arranged to meet her that evening.
Kopp said Lackey gave his pager to Rocky Seaman, took Seaman's cell phone and showed Seaman a spot on a Kenai beach where he planned to bring Hennagin. Later, he took Hennagin there and used the cell phone to page Seaman. According to Kopp, Seaman arrived and murdered Hennagin. Lackey fled the scene.
Lackey later pleaded guilty to second-degree murder before turning state's evidence against Seaman in the November trial.
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