Judge raises bail for man charged in ax murder

Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A judge increased the bail for a man charged with hacking a man to death with an ax and seriously injuring his girlfriend after entering an Eagle River home early Tuesday.

Lamar Gathers, 19, was arraigned Wednesday afternoon in Anchorage District Court on charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder, first-degree burglary and evidence tampering. He is accused of killing 19-year-old Dustin Gard to death and injuring 19-year-old Bridgette Blezinski at the home where they were housesitting.

As she pleaded for her life, Blezinski asked Gathers when he decided to attack her and her boyfriend with a hatchet, and ''he told her that he had decided that morning because he had a bad day,'' according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday.

Gathers said nothing during the brief court appearance. A public defender was appointed to represent him.

''The couple had kicked Mr. Gathers out of the house a few days before,'' prosecutor Jay Fayette told reporters after the arraignment. ''It appears to be a retaliation.''

Judge Stephanie Rhoades agreed to Fayette's request that Gathers' bail be raised from $200,000 to $500,000. Fayette argued Gathers ''poses an extraordinary risk to public safety'' and is a flight risk because he is homeless, unemployed and has strained relations with his family.

Gathers is on probation for stealing a truck in June in Anchorage. Fayette said Gathers was kicked out of the Alaska Military Youth Academy for fighting and for stealing a car in May. The academy is a program of the Alaska National Guard at Fort Richardson for troubled youths who are seeking to turn their lives around.

Blezinski told police she woke up sometime after 2 a.m. to Gard's screaming. In the dark, she could see Gathers swinging the ax, according to the complaint she gave police. When she screamed, he swung at her, striking her in the arm and head. She said she saw Gathers again strike Gard in the head.

Gathers then ordered Blezinski to lie on her stomach.

''She got down to her knees and pleaded with him not to kill her,'' the complaint states. ''He told her to shut up, but she continued to plead with him to let her call 911 because Gard did not deserve to die.''

Gathers smashed the bedroom telephone. He later allowed Blezinski to check on Gard, and she said he had a faint pulse as he lay on the bed.

Gathers told her he decided to attack them that morning because he had a bad day. He entered the house using a ladder to access a patio door, according to the complaint.

Gathers has a brother who worked with the couple at Wal-Mart, and he had arranged for him to stay temporarily with Gard and Blezinski. They told him to leave Aug. 20 because he was messy and they noticed money missing from a change jar.

As Blezinski sat on the bed bleeding, she asked for some water and food. The two moved to the kitchen.

''He went to get the water for her and asked her if she wanted some medicine for a migraine,'' the complaint states. ''When she said yes, he laughed at the joke of her needing the headache medicine since she had that big gash on her head.''

When Gathers turned away, Blezinski ran to a neighbor for help.

During interviews Tuesday with detectives, Gathers admitted being in the house but denied involvement in the attack.

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