Juneau jury deadlocks in assault trial, convicts on evidence charge

Posted: Sunday, April 28, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- After deliberating for nearly two days, a jury could not decide whether a Juneau man who stabbed an acquaintance more than 20 times was guilty of assault.

The jury deadlocked Friday afternoon in the first-degree assault trial of George Shavers, 48, who stabbed Barry Richards on Jan. 26 during a night of drinking on Shavers' boat in a downtown harbor.

Shavers claimed he acted in self defense.

The jury did find Shavers guilty of felony tampering with evidence. In a tape of his police interrogation played at the trial, Shavers admitted throwing away the knife used in the incident and bloody rags, but said he was just cleaning up his boat.

Shavers faces up to five years in prison on the tampering charge.

Authorities have been unable to locate Richards, who is believed to be homeless, since he discharged himself from Bartlett Regional Hospital on Jan. 28. Hospital staff said Richards was in fair condition when he left, although he had suffered a skull fracture and stab wounds.

A hearing is scheduled for Thursday morning to determine whether District Attorney Rick Svobodny will retry the assault charge.

''I don't know yet what we will do,'' said Svobodny. ''If the jurors were split 11 to one that it was self-defense, then we won't retry the case. But if they were 11 to one that it wasn't, we probably will.''

Shavers' trial began April 22. Defense attorney David Seid said he was disappointed that Shavers was convicted on any of the charges but was pleased the jury took so long to consider the case.

''Obviously they thought long and hard about their decision and took the case seriously,'' he said.

Seid said Shavers ''believed he acted in self-defense and wanted to have 12 people from the community to decide on it.''

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