By Becky Bohrer
JUNEAU, Alaska — An Alaska man has been sentenced to prison for life in the 2010 shooting deaths of two Hoonah police officers, in a case that rocked the tiny community and galvanized the state's law enforcement community.
State court Judge David George on Friday sentenced John Marvin Jr. to two consecutive sentences of 99 years in the deaths of Hoonah Police Sgt. Anthony Wallace and Officer Matthew Tokuoka.
Jurors in November found that Wallace was on duty at the time of the killing, which the judge said necessitated the 99-year term. He said that also made Marvin ineligible for parole on that count. Jurors did not make the same finding for Tokuoka, who was not yet on duty on Aug. 28, 2010, when Wallace pulled up in his vehicle behind Tokuoka and his family in front of Marvin's home, shortly before the killings.
George said making the two prison terms run simultaneously, rather than one after the other, would have diminished the sentencing criteria he considered most critical — including the need to condemn Marvin's actions. He said Tokuoka was killed as he tended to Wallace and tried to get help.
The judge called Marvin a "dangerous individual" and said he believed Marvin killed the officers in revenge for a prior run-in with them. He said he would recommend Marvin receive behavioral health services.
During the hearing, Marvin maintained his innocence and gave a rambling statement in which he referred to past cases against him, talked about insurance and due process and repeatedly referred to himself as a "high-ranking royal." At times, he flipped through a law book and interrupted his attorney, Eric Hedland. Marvin wore an orange jumpsuit and blue slip-on shoes and had chains around his wrists and ankles.
Marvin, 47, was convicted in November of first-degree murder in the deaths of Wallace and Tokuoka, who were gunned down in front of Marvin's home.
According to testimony at trial, the Tokuokas had stopped at a trash bin near Marvin's home on the night of the shooting to get rid of scraps from an earlier family crab feast. Tokuoka's widow, Haley Tokuoka, testified she saw Marvin through the window of his home, slamming a dark object, which she said looked like a military ammunition container. She said she told her husband, "It looks like John Marvin is going crazy."
Wallace then pulled behind the couple's vehicle, jokingly flashing his lights and sounding his police siren. His mother, Debbie Greene, visiting from out of town, was on a ride-along with him.
Haley Tokuoka said she told Wallace her concerns and he shone his flashlight toward Marvin's house, drawing a rebuke from her husband. Wallace went to the couple's vehicle to talk to their kids while the Tokuokas spoke with Greene. Soon after, shots rang out.
The case reverberated across Alaska, with the officers' memorial televised statewide. Several police officers were present for Friday's sentencing, as they were when the verdicts were read.
During trial, District Attorney David Brower argued that Marvin held a grudge against the officers after a 2009 run-in. That incident, which left Marvin beaten up, stemmed from a trespassing call and led to charges against Marvin that eventually were dismissed. Brower argued Marvin killed Wallace and Tokuoka "in cold blood," and said bullets used matched a rifle in Marvin's home.
Hedland called the state's case circumstantial. He said no one saw who fired the shots, and said investigators zeroed in on Marvin because he "fit the profile," from the prior run-in to the location of the crime scene and his odd behavior. In his opening statements, Hedland said Marvin suffered from a "serious mental disability," but he called no psychologists or doctors who might have treated or examined Marvin.
On Friday, the judge heard statements from Greene, Haley Tokuoka and Tokuoka's father, Dean Goodner. Haley Tokuoka and Greene were a constant presence at Marvin's trial. Greene listened to Friday's hearing by phone, and Haley Tokuoka read Greene's heart-wrenching statement into the record for her.
"Only you know why you did what you did that night, and I really hope you can live with that," the statement said. "I just want so much to know why."
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Copyright 2013 Associated Press