State won't retry Seaman

Posted: Friday, December 15, 2000

A Kenai prosecutor has decided not to pursue a retrial against a Nikiski man after a mistrial was declared on one of three charges last month.

District Attorney Dwayne McConnell said Thursday he would not seek another trial on the first-degree murder charge against Rocky Seaman, 43, who was convicted Nov. 20 in Kodiak on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit kidnapping in connection with the 1996 disappearance of Loreese "Loree" Hennagin, 29, of Kenai. Hennagin's body has not been found.

After returning the guilty verdicts early in the morning of Nov. 20, jurors continued to deliberate the first-degree murder charge before Superior Court Judge Donald Hopwood excused them and declared a mistrial that afternoon. The jury was required to return separate, unanimous verdicts on each count.

The trial began with jury selection on Oct. 19 after being transferred from Kenai.

McConnell said the murder count, when factored into concurrent sentences with the other charges, would not dramatically affect the overall sentence Seaman could face. Sentencing has been scheduled for April 13.

He said the convictions carry sentences that range from five to 99 years on the conspiracy to murder count, an unclassified felony, to five to 20 years on the conspiracy to kidnap charge. The murder count carries a 20 to 99 year term.

"The parameters the court could sentence him to, with concurrent sentences, is still out there with the conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to kidnap convictions," McConnell said.

McConnell said the second trial stemming from the Hennagin disappearance, against Joan "Avis" McGahan, has been scheduled for June 4.

McGahan, who is Seaman's mother, faces counts of first- and second-degree murder, conspiracy to kidnap and conspiracy to commit murder. McGahan is currently being held at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center in Eagle River, while Seaman is being held at Cook Inlet Pretrial facility in Anchorage. Seaman's lawyer, Anchorage attorney Jim McComas, declined to comment on the case Thursday.

Kenai police Sgt. Chuck Kopp said Thursday his department is pleased with the outcome of the investigation.

"A no-body homicide is extremely difficult to prove," Kopp said. "Rocky Seaman had considerable influence over fellow peddlers in the drug trade who he didn't think would talk. We were glad to get cooperation from those people as well as others who were able to step forward and speak the truth.

"The fact that only one juror was undecided on the murder count is further evidence that the witnesses were credible."

Kopp also praised McConnell's work in trying the state's case.

"Dwayne did a heck of a job and had to overcome a lot to bring the truth to the jury," Kopp said. "We're very thankful that we had a prosecutor willing to fight that battle."

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