Man cleared of murder charges

Posted: Thursday, May 29, 2003

KETCHIKAN (AP) A 39-year-old man who spent 14 months in jail has been cleared of charges that he murdered another man on Christmas of 2001.

A Ketchikan Superior Court jury pronounced Brock Charles innocent of second-degree murder on Friday.

''It was a long, long year,'' Charles said of the nearly 14 months he spent behind bars awaiting his trial in the death of Gordon Rasnick.

Charles missed his father's funeral in October and worried about his ailing mother, he said. Charles shook hands with his attorney, Darrel Gardner, before leaving the courthouse to collect his personal items at the Ketchikan Correctional Center.

Later, he sat at his mother's kitchen table, surrounded by family, and read newspaper stories about his trial.

The jury received the case shortly after noon Thursday, deliberated all afternoon and continued Friday morning. The jury notified Superior Court Judge Trevor Stephens that it had reached a verdict at 1:30 p.m.

The jury had authority to find Charles guilty of a series of less serious charges, ranging from manslaughter to fourth-degree assault. The jurors returned innocent verdicts on all those charges.

Rasnick, 50, was found dead near his Front Street apartment on Christmas afternoon, 2001. Ketchikan police concluded that he had been assaulted late the previous night. They did not arrest Charles until March of 2002.

The defense asserted throughout the trial that Rasnick's wounds did not indicate an assault, but rather an accidental fall.

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