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Coday v. State

May 6, 2009


Appeal from the Superior Court, First Judicial District, Juneau, Michael A. Thompson, Judge. Trial Court No. 1JU-06-01007 CR.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Coats, Chief Judge.


No. 5478

Before: Coats, Chief Judge, and Mannheimer and Bolger, Judges.

Jason Coday was convicted of murder in the first degree*fn1 and misconduct involving weapons in the third degree.*fn2 Coday appeals, arguing that Superior Court Judge Michael A. Thompson erred in denying his motion to suppress. In superior court, Coday argued that his arrest was illegal because it was not supported by probable cause. He argued that the court should therefore suppress all evidence resulting from his arrest. Judge Thompson denied Coday's motion, finding that the police had probable cause to arrest him. We affirm.

On August 2, 2006, a young man went into a gun shop in Juneau and asked the owner, Raymond Coxe, to show him some.22-caliber rifles. Coxe showed the man several rifles, then went into the back of the store. A short time later, one of Coxe's employees told him that the man had left the store, a.22-caliber rifle was gone, and there was $200 in cash on the counter. The price of the missing rifle was $195.

Coxe tried to find the man, because he was required to have the man fill out paperwork to legally sell him the rifle. But Coxe never found the man, so he reported the incident to the Juneau Police Department.

Two days later, on August 4, Edward Buyarski and his employee, Alexandra Griffin-Satre, were working outside the Juneau Fred Meyer store. They were talking with Simone Kim, a painter who was working on the building. A man in a dark rain jacket and pants approached and shot Simone Kim several times. Buyarski managed to take the gun away from the man, who then ran up a hill and into the woods behind Fred Meyer. Griffin-Satre called 911.

Juneau Police Department Sergeant Thomas Bates arrived within three to five minutes, at approximately 2:44 p.m. He saw Simone Kim lying on the ground. Kim appeared to be gravely wounded and, moments after Sergeant Bates arrived, appeared to be dead. Kim ultimately died from his wounds. The rifle, a sawed-off.22, was lying on the ground.

Sergeant Bates interviewed Buyarski around 3:00 p.m. and Griffin-Satre around 3:15 p.m. Buyarski and Griffin-Satre explained what had just happened. Sergeant Bates stated that the witnesses described the shooter as a white male, approximately six-feet tall. They said that the shooter was wearing dark-colored rain gear. Buyarski described the rain gear as the non-rubberized kind. They both said that the man ran uphill into the woods behind Fred Meyer. Sergeant Bates broadcast the description of the suspect and the area where the suspect had fled.

At the evidentiary hearing, Griffin-Satre described the suspect as a white male, six feet to six feet and two inches tall, with short, curly blonde hair. She said he was wearing black rain pants and a "really dark" rain jacket with a hood. Buyarski described the suspect as wearing a dark greenish to black raincoat, with nylon, rather than rubberized fabric, and dark rain pants. Buyarski said the man was approximately six feet tall and in his mid- to late-twenties, possibly early thirties.

The Juneau Police Department obtained a helicopter, and Sergeant Bates was flown over the wooded area with a thermal imaging device in an attempt to locate the suspect. Sergeant Bates testified that even if they were unable to locate the suspect, the fact that the helicopter was over the area would keep the suspect from moving.

Troy Cunningham lived in a duplex on the hill directly behind Fred Meyer. On the afternoon of August 4, Cunningham saw "a suspicious-looking person" running near his house. Cunningham thought the man looked "guilty of something" and that the situation "just seemed wrong." Cunningham ran to the window and yelled, "Private property." The man turned toward Cunningham and said, "I'm leaving." He saw the man climb a fifteen-foot rock retaining wall. At the evidentiary hearing, Cunningham described the man as white, around thirty years of age, wearing black light-duty rain gear, with a hood. Cunningham said that the man had short curly hair, with no beard. The man was climbing uphill in the mud, using both his legs and arms. About five minutes later, Sergeant Paul Hatch knocked on Cunningham's door. Cunningham showed Sergeant Hatch the footpath where the man had gone and a boot print in the mud on the top of the rock wall. Sergeant Hatch asked Cunningham to put a bucket over the boot print to preserve it. Shortly thereafter, other police officers appeared and started measuring and taking pictures of the boot print.

Paola Hannon, Cunningham's tenant and resident of the other unit in his duplex, also noticed the man when she heard Cunningham yell. She saw him go uphill into the forest. She described him as white, age twenty-five to thirty. According to Hannon, the man had short brown hair and wore a dark coat, probably black. About an ...

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