Man found guilty of Nenana trapper murder

Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A Nenana man was found guilty Wednesday of murder in the shooting death of a Nenana trapper last year.

Mark Andrews, 26, was convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and two counts of second-degree theft in connection with the death of John ''Mackie'' Burk on Jan. 14, 2001.

Because the murder was committed in the course of a robbery, it carries an automatic 99-year sentence. Andrews will be sentenced on June 3.

Andrews waived his right to a jury trial and Superior Court judge Charles Pengilly handed down his verdict immediately following three days of testimony.

Burk, 66, was shot to death through the front door of his Nenana cabin. In addition to Andrew, Darin Nathaniel, 19, of Minto was also charged.

Nathaniel is serving a 20-year sentence after being convicted on a count of second-degree murder as part of a plea agreement. That agreement stipulated that Nathaniel would testify at Andrews' trial.

Nathaniel told the court that Andrews masterminded the crime, stealing a pair of shotguns and some ammunition from another Nenana home before heading to Burk's cabin.

''We went to his place, we knocked on the door ... he answered the door and that's when (Andrews) let off four shots,'' he said.

Expert crime scene witnesses backed up Nathaniel's story. Evidence showed Burk had been shot once when the door was open before the gun was fired three more times through the metal door itself.

Nathaniel said his gun was never loaded and that he stayed outside while Andrews entered the cabin and emerged with a few beers and a drawer.

''There were a few papers in there and a bunch of loose change,'' he said.

Testimony at the trial suggested that the perpetrator may have been looking for something more. Both current Nenana Police Chief Milt Haken and former chief Wayne Walters said Burk had a reputation as a drug dealer.

An Alaska State Trooper investigator said more than $10,000 worth of small packages of cocaine had been discovered hidden in a Thermos and a pillowcase in Burk's home after the murder.

Defender Bill Spiers did not call any witnesses in the trial. Andrews elected not to testify on his own behalf.

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