Homer shooter pleads not guilty

Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2001

Friday, a Kenai grand jury indicted John R. Powell on 10 felony counts connected with a shooting near Homer April 5. Monday, Powell pleaded not guilty.

"... He will enter pleas of not guilty on all counts," Public Defender Diane Foster told Superior Court Judge Harold M. Brown during the brief arraignment.

Powell, quiet and shorn of his long hair and beard, sat nearby in handcuffs and yellow prison garb. He is being held at Wildwood Pretrial Facility on $250,000 bail.

Brown set the trial for the week of July 16 in Homer, with Judge Jonathan Link to preside.

Powell is accused of three counts each of attempted murder in the first degree, first-degree assault and third-degree assault, plus one count of second-degree weapons misconduct.

The charges stem from a night when Powell staked out a cabin about a mile from his own in the remote woods northeast of Homer. He fired buckshot and slugs into the cabin from all angles while the unarmed residents, Susan "Susie" Malone and Gabriel Ritchie, sought to shield themselves from ricocheting bullets and summon Alaska State Troopers using a weak cell phone connection. Snowmachiner David Baird, who blundered into the area, also was shot at and threatened verbally.

After Powell sent Baird to the cabin with instructions to bring Ritchie out, the endangered threesome managed to elude him and slip into the forest. Baird ran 10 miles home. Malone and Ritchie, who were not dressed and were hampered by the fact that Malone is recovering from major lung surgery, fled about six miles through the woods before search helicopters located them about five hours after the ordeal began.

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