Murder suspect faces new charges

Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2001

The man accused of shooting a Soldotna man dead May 1 along the highway near Hope was indicted Friday on several new charges.

Robert O. Holt Jr., 19, of Anchorage, was arraigned Wednesday in Kenai Superior Court on one count of first-degree burglary, one count of first-degree vehicle theft and two counts of second-degree theft. He pleaded not guilty to all four counts. His trial on the new charges is scheduled to begin the week of Nov. 13 before Kenai Superior Court Judge Jonathan Link.

Investigator James Helgoe of the Alaska State Troopers in Soldotna said the new charges stem from events that occurred just days before the shooting death of Harold Sipary, 44. Holt hitchhiked from Anchorage to Soldotna the weekend of April 27-29 and broke into his grandfather's house, Helgoe said. He said Holt stole several items, including pistols and stereo equipment. He later stole his grandfather's pickup truck, which he drove with a friend to Anchorage, Helgoe alleged.

Early May 2, Sipary was found dead at a pull-out at Mile 48 Seward Highway, north of Summit Lake. About 11:20 a.m., Anchorage police found Holt driving Sipary's truck in Anchorage. Holt and two passengers agreed to be interviewed by troopers. Helgoe filed an affidavit alleging that Holt had confessed to shooting Sipary.

Holt allegedly told troopers he was hitchhiking alone May 1 from Anchorage back to Soldotna and got dropped off near the highway to Hope. Sipary picked him up. Holt told troopers that Sipary had a nice truck, and he decided to steal it. He told Sipary he wanted to relieve himself, and Sipary stopped at the turnout.

According to the affidavit, Holt told troopers he relieved himself, then pointed a .22 caliber pistol at Sipary and ordered him to get out of the truck.

"When Sipary wouldn't get out of the truck, (Holt) said that he fired two rounds from the pistol. One round struck Sipary in the face. Robert said that Sipary slumped over in the driver's seat," the affidavit said.

The affidavit said Holt pulled Sipary out of the truck and started to drive away. Then, he backed up to search Sipary for a wallet or money before driving off.

Last May, a Kenai grand jury indicted Holt on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree vehicle theft. He pleaded not guilty to both charges and was held at Wildwood Pretrial Facility pending pending $250,000 cash bail and a court-appointed third-party custodian.

His trial repeatedly has been postponed.

On Friday, a Kenai grand jury indicted Holt on one count of first-degree burglary, alleging that Holt unlawfully entered the home of his grandfather, Kenneth Holt, of Soldotna, with the intent to commit theft. It indicted Holt on two counts of second-degree theft, alleging that he stole a .22 caliber Ruger and a .38 caliber Colt pistol.

Helgoe said he believes the .22 Ruger was the same pistol Holt used to shoot Sipary.

Friday's grand jury also indicted Holt on a new count of first-degree vehicle theft, alleging that Holt stole a vehicle belonging to his grandfather.

Helgoe said that when Holt confessed to the murder, he also said that a friend rode with him in his grandfather's truck to Anchorage. According to Helgoe, Holt said the friend fired a shot from inside the truck at the door to see if the bullet would pass completely through.

The grandfather's truck has been recovered. A bullet hole corroborates Holt's account, Helgoe said. Helgoe said he believes the shot came from the .22 pistol Holt stole from his grandfather. The window on the truck door was shattered, and the glass fell inside the door, between the inner and outer panels. Troopers could not find the bullet. Helgoe said he believes the fragments fell out through weep holes in the bottom of the door. He said he does not believe Holt's friend was involved in the burglary and thefts.

Neither the .22 nor the .38 has been recovered, he said, though troopers searched a wooded area in Anchorage where Holt said he discarded the murder weapon. The grandfather was unable to provide serial numbers for the guns, so troopers have been unable to list them as stolen.

First-degree murder is an unclassified felony subject to a prison term of 20 to 99 years and a fine of up to $75,000. First-degree burglary is a Class B felony subject to a prison term of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $50,000. First-degree vehicle theft and second-degree theft are Class C felonies subject to prison terms of up to five years and fines of up to $50,000.

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