Jury finds two men guilty of second-degree murder

Posted: Friday, May 16, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) An Anchorage jury has found two men guilty of second-degree murder in the August 2001 beating death of a 53-year-old man.

It took jurors less than a day to find William ''Donnie'' Grossman and Erick David guilty Thursday of killing Larry Brown.

The jury also found David guilty of misdemeanor assault on another man, Kevin Vanderway, who was in a vacant lot in Fairview on Aug. 14, 2001, when a fight broke out.

''I'm thrilled that they were able to hold these guys accountable,'' prosecutor Adrienne Bachman told the Anchorage Daily News.

On the night of the killing, Brown, Grossman, David, Vanderway and Cathy Tugatuk were drinking together.

Tugatuk's drunken ranting attracted the attention of people living in nearby apartments, who became witnesses to what happened.

What started the fight was never really clear. Defense attorney Sidney Billingslea told jurors that the people in the drinking party could remember what brand of liquor they were passing around but not how one of them ended up dead.

Brown's blood alcohol was 0.39 when he died.

Grossman, 37, could be heard throughout the trial insisting to his lawyer that he didn't kill Brown. He admitted the assault on Vanderway.

Billingslea told jurors the people watching from their apartment windows confused Brown and Vanderway, who both had red beards and both got hit that night. They saw Grossman and David hitting Vanderway but couldn't see past a big spruce tree to the attack on Brown, she said.

''It's one of the harder verdicts for me to take,'' Billingslea said Thursday, ''because I don't think the state proved its case.''

Neither defendant testified.

David, 36, seemed passive throughout the trial. His attorney, Michael Smith, argued that the apartment house witnesses never identified his client as one of the assailants.

Both men face sentencing before Judge Larry Card later this year.

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