Testimony heats up Seaman trial

Brother against brother

Posted: Thursday, October 26, 2000

KODIAK -- Rusty Seaman testified for the prosecution Wednesday in the murder trial of his brother, Kenai resident Rocky Seamen.

During his lengthy testimony, Rusty barely looked at Rocky, who is on trial in Kodiak, charged with murdering Rusty's girlfriend, 29-year-old Loreese "Loree" Hennagin, in 1996. Hennagin disappeared four years ago this month, but her body has not been found. The trial was moved from Kenai because of pretrial publicity.

Kenai prosecutor Dwayne McConnell charges that Hennagin was killed out of revenge for a burglary at the home of Joan "Avis" McGahan, the mother of the Seaman brothers.

Rusty Seaman testified that he, Hennagin and Karen Wilson, Hennagin's mother, went to Anchorage and stole cocaine, jewelry and money from the safe in McGahan's home.

He said he was angry at McGahan and Rocky Seaman "for a number of things," including how McGahan treated Hennagin.

"They (Rocky and McGahan) ended up owning everything I owned, manipulating one deal after another with me until they ended up owning everything I had."

The estimated 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 pounds of cocaine taken from the safe are a key to the case. Rusty testified that Hennagin flushed the cocaine down the toilet. But defense attorneys Cindy Strout and Jim McComas say the cocaine could lead to completely different theories of the case, if it had not been flushed.

Its existence would provide a motive for other people to seek out Hennagin.

Rusty Seaman said that after the robbery he and Hennagin returned to Kenai, where they were visited "10 to 12 times at least" by Rocky Seaman and McGahan, who wanted their drugs, jewelry and money back.

Rusty Seaman said he was eventually arrested by his parole officer after a urine test showed evidence of cocaine use. The state contends that Rocky turned Rusty in for the parole violation to get him away from Hennagin.

Rusty said he met Jeffrey Lackey, the prosecution's key witness, while on parole at a halfway house around 1994. Lackey's conversations with a cellmate years later when he was in jail on drug charges implicated Rocky Seaman and McGahan in Hennagin's disappearance.

Lackey, 39, pleaded no-contest last year to second-degree murder in the case. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison, with just more than half suspended.

Also testifying Wednesday was Karen Wilson, Hennagin's mother. Wilson testified that she went to Anchorage with Hennagin and Rusty Seaman to see that her daughter didn't get involved with drugs. She says she wasn't aware of Rusty's plan to steal from his mother.

Wilson said she doesn't remember much of the trip to Anchorage because she was drunk at the time, but she said she remembers leaving Kenai and waking up in the car in a garage in Anchorage. She said she remembers Rusty running some kind of noisy equipment, which she later found out was a cutting torch.

When she returned to Kenai, she said, she asked Richard Tibbetts, a friend, to call Rocky, telling him that Rusty owed Tibbetts a lot of money, and asking for his address. The purpose of the call, she said, was to find out what Rocky Seaman and McGahan were planning.

Wilson testified that while she listened on another phone, Rocky told Tibbetts he'd pay Rusty's debt if Tibbetts would hurt both Rusty Seaman and Hennagin. Wilson claimed she heard Rocky say, "I want her hurt really bad."

The defense has tried to have Wilson's testimony disallowed, saying the inclusion of having Hennagin "hurt really bad" appears nowhere in any of the transcripts of previous testimony by Wilson.

The trial, which is expected to last a month, is in recess until Monday.



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