Megan Ravara broke down in tears in a Kenai courtroom upon seeing her brother, Adam Israel, for the first time in nearly two years during an evidentiary hearing in Israel’s murder trial on Tuesday.
Ravara said she last saw Israel on Jan. 29, 2005, when she was walking through the Soldotna Police Department and saw him in a holding cell shortly after she had visited Central Peninsula General Hospital and learned that their mother, Dorothy Israel, had died due to a knife wound to her back.
Adam Israel, 24, has been charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of his mother in their Soldotna residence on 167 Little Ave.
Ravara, 20, had been living in Anchorage for some time before her mother died, but came to Soldotna on weekend visits to see her mother and brothers as often as she could, she said.
On the day Dorothy Israel died, she had been planning to go to the Caribou Hills for a weekend of snowmachining, and Ravara said she had wanted to go along and asked her mother to wait for her.
But instead of finding her mother when she reached the home in Soldotna, Ravara said she found law enforcement vehicles and was greeted by an officer who told her Dorothy Israel had been stabbed and taken to Central Peninsula General Hospital.
Ravara went to CPGH. After she found out her mother had died, she went to the Soldotna Police Department where Adam Israel was being held and police were watching over her 8-year-old brother, Corbin Schoeffel, until family could be found to care for him.
“She was awesome ... she was very giving, caring, anything we wanted ... ,” Ravara said about her mother as she trailed off into tears.
Dorothy Israel, who was 43 at the time of her death, had four sons and one daughter, of which Adam is the second-oldest. On Tuesday, the prosecution also asked for testimony from Adam’s second-youngest brother, Andrew Joseph Ravara, 16, who is referred to as AJ.
When the stabbing occurred, AJ Ravara was at a cabin in the Caribou Hills with friends of the family, waiting for his mother and siblings to arrive. But what the prosecution appeared most interested in hearing about during his testimony was what had happened at home the weekend before Dorothy Israel was stabbed.
In his testimony, AJ Ravara told jurors that the weekend before the stabbing, he and Adam had gotten into a fight. He said that before the fight he had been staying at a friend’s house for several days and had come home to get gear for a snowmachining trip. Adam came into his room upset with AJ for not having come to his aid during a fight that had occurred about a week earlier.
“He started pushing me and made me drop my bag,” AJ Ravara said. “And then I was like, ‘What are you doing? Leave me alone, I didn’t do anything.’”
He said the two of them then began to wrestle and Adam punched him in the jaw.
Megan Ravara and his mother were upstairs from AJ’s bedroom and when they heard fighting below, came down to see what was going on, AJ said.
Megan Ravara, who said she came down before her mother, testified that she yelled at AJ and Adam to stop.
AJ Ravara said that when he and Adam finally quit fighting, Adam left his bedroom. As he was walking away from the room, Adam stopped and turned to yell back at everyone.
“He said ‘You’re all going to get it, especially you,’ and pointed to my mom,” AJ Ravara said.
Megan Ravara related the same incident to jurors except that she had remembered Adam saying “‘You’re all going to be sorry, especially you,’” as he pointed at his mother, and that Adam had said it before exiting AJ’s room rather than after as AJ had remembered.
When she was not testifying, Megan sat in a row of chairs in the gallery with AJ, her father and Dorothy’s brother, Patrick Schoeffel.
“I would like him to be in jail the rest of his life,” Megan said of Adam as she exited the courtroom on Tuesday.
In opening arguments last week, District Attorney June Stein, asked jurors to find Israel guilty of first-degree murder, saying that Israel is a controlling man and that his need to control led him to intentionally kill his mother.
Public defender Marvin Hamilton, however, argued Israel had been battling internal demons the day he stabbed his mother and had intended to kill himself rather than his mother.
According to Soldotna police, Israel stabbed his mother with a kitchen knife after he had become angry with her during an argument.
Israel called 911 shortly after the stabbing at 12:13 p.m., and Dorothy Israel was taken to CPGH where she died around 1 p.m.
Hamilton said actions Israel took after stabbing his mother indicate he did not intend to kill her and that he should not be found guilty of first-degree murder, as the prosecution asks.
Patrice Kohl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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