D.A. seeks delay in Big Lake chapel shooting trial

Posted: Friday, September 05, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) The Palmer District Attorney's office has requested a delay in the trial of a Big Lake pastor charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in the deaths of two men attempting to burglarize his church.

DNA findings in the case prompted the request in the trial of the Rev. Phillip Mielke, set to begin Monday. Assistant District Attorney Bob Collins wants Palmer Superior Court Judge Beverly Cutler to push back the start until at least Sept. 29.

DNA results that came in late last week have raised new questions, Collins said Thursday. State medical examiners also will be out of state during the period set for trial.

Mielke's attorney, Jim Gilmore, did not return a call Thursday to the Anchorage Daily News. According to the court documents filed with the prosecutor's motion to delay the trial, Gilmore opposes the request.

The main development centers on new reports showing DNA from both burglars on a loaded .357-caliber Magnum found in the Big Lake Community Chapel basement.

Investigators with the Alaska Crime Lab recovered the DNA on the handgun, but the gun also contains ''multiple sources'' of DNA, according to an affidavit filed Thursday with the district attorney's motion.

Investigators have not yet determined whether Mielke's DNA is also on the gun, the document said.

Mielke has claimed he shot Frank Jones, 23, and Chris Palmer, 31, early in the morning on April 24 after they broke into the chapel. Mielke has said that, alerted by an alarm system, he rushed to the chapel with his .44-caliber Magnum and shot at the men as they ran up the basement stairs because he thought they were rushing toward him in the near-dark. He continued to fire after they passed him.

Both men were shot in the back, according to medical reports. Palmer's body was discovered near the chapel. Jones died later at a nearby home.

Mielke voluntarily submitted a DNA sample on Aug. 25, according to the court document. The crime lab is studying the sample.

The affidavit says that another question has arisen about a witness statement that ''neither of the deceased men had handled a handgun recently.'' Prosecutors wants more time to see if the statement conflicts with the DNA on the gun.

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