A former defendant against the state is seeking a total of $90 million in fees for "extensive damage" from District Attorney Dwayne McConnell, Alaska State Trooper Daniel E. Donaldson, and the State of Alaska -- $30 million from each.
Zebulon E. Nudson, 24, of Nikiski, has entered a lawsuit through his attorney, Wevley Shea of Anchorage, claiming that, due to negligence and deliberate misrepresentation of the facts by McConnell and Donaldson, he was forced to spend 131 days in jail and subsequently lost his home, his job and life.
The lawsuit also alleges that McConnell offered "corrupt, incompetent and prejudicial testimony, violating Nudson's basic civil and constitutional rights."
Nudson's home on Bastien Drive in Nikiski was allegedly invaded by five males on March 12, 2000 -- Justin Meireis, 19, Robbie Meireis, now 23, Gary Waddington, now 17, Rick Sanchez, now 34, and Harry Trenton, now 36, all of Nikiski. When they tried to break into Nudson's home, he opened fire, killing Justin Meireis and injuring three others.
Nudson contended that he fired in self-defense. The state, contending that he was still firing as the assailants drove away, charged him with one count of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree murder, four counts of first-degree attempted murder, three counts of first-degree assault and one count of third-degree assault. He went to trial in April 2001 and was found not guilty on all counts.
Shea said he believes that McConnell attempted to prejudice the grand jury at the initial investigation. Evidence regarding Nudson's possession of weaponry was introduced that Shea says was obtained illegally. He also states in the lawsuit that Donaldson illegally interrogated Nudson, violating his fifth-amendment rights.
Shea said the fact that Nudson had no prior arrest record was essentially ignored by both Donaldson and McConnell. The lawsuit states that they also ignored the fact that all the males who allegedly invaded Nudson's home had long arrest records.
The lawsuit states unequivocally that Nudson was "put through hell that no Alaskan should ever again be asked to endure."
Shea also wants to see Robbie Meireis, Waddington, Sanchez and Trenton, the survivors of the incident, prosecuted for second-degree murder, and part of the lawsuit filed against the state includes a mandatory injunction to this effect.
Shea, who has practiced for 25 years as an attorney, said that he takes this case very seriously.
"I know the obligations of law enforcement officers and state's attorneys' offices," Shea said. "It pains me to do this. I'm no ambulance chaser. I would not have filed this case if I didn't think we had a very good chance of winning. This is the worst violation of a client's civil rights that I have ever seen."
Bob King, Gov. Tony Knowles' press secretary, said that, as a matter of policy, the state does not comment on matters pending litigation.
Greg Wilkinson, spokesperson for the Alaska State Troopers, said Trooper Donaldson will not be making any comment on the case except through his attorney.
McConnell and John Wolfe, the assistant district attorney, could not be reached for comment.
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