Accused murderer's trial set

Oklahoman pleads not guilty in '85 death

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2003

The murder trial of Oklahoman Barry J. McCormack Sr. has been set for the week of June 2 in Kenai Superior Court.

McCormack, 52, is accused of first- and second-degree murder in the 1985 fatal shooting of Opal Fairchild in her home on East Poppy Lane in Soldotna.

McCormack, who was arrested and extradited from Oklahoma to Alaska on March 24, was arraigned on the charges in Judge Charles K. Cranston's court in Kenai on Tuesday. McCormack pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Fairchild was killed by a single gunshot to her head in what appeared to be a robbery March 20, 1985. According to an Alaska State Trooper report, approximately $400 was taken and Fairchild's purse was found partly emptied on a table in the residence.

About 12 days earlier, Melvin Anderson was robbed at gunpoint in his wood stove retail shop in Sterling. Anderson also was shot once in the head by the robber, who fled with about $500 from the cash register and Anderson's wallet.

Anderson survived the shooting and investigators matched the bullet recovered from his head with the one that killed Fairchild.

Investigators also found latent fingerprints at both crime scenes and cigarettes possibly left by the robber at the Fairchild home. When the fingerprints were entered into the state's fingerprint identification system, however, no match was found.

Troopers continued their investigation of the two crimes, but eventually they fell into "cold case" status.

In August 2000, the troopers' Criminal Investigation Bureau asked the State Crime Lab to run the prints again and this time, a match was made with fingerprints of McCormack.

In 2002, troopers formed their cold-case unit and in August, investigators telephoned McCormack in Oklahoma. They then traveled to Poteau, Okla., to interview him about the two crimes.

On March 21, a grand jury in Kenai indicted McCormack on murder charges in the Fairchild case.

He was not and cannot be charged in the Anderson robbery because the statute of limitations has run out on that crime. No limitation applies in murder cases in Alaska.

On Tuesday, Cranston assigned the murder case to Superior Court Judge Harold Brown.

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