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State v. Korkow

Supreme Court of Alaska

December 13, 2013

STATE of Alaska, Petitioner,
v.
Jimmy Jack KORKOW, Respondent.

Page 561

Kenneth M. Rosenstein, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Special Prosecutions & Appeals, Anchorage, and Michael C. Geraghty, Attorney General, Juneau, for Petitioner.

Glenda Kerry, Law Office of Glenda J. Kerry, Girdwood, for Respondent.

Before: FABE, Chief Justice, CARPENETI, WINFREE, STOWERS and MAASSEN, Justices.

OPINION

WINFREE, Justice.

I. INTRODUCTION

Jimmy Jack Korkow was convicted of first-degree murder for beating and stabbing his wife to death while the couple's young children were present in the family home. The trial court sentenced Korkow to 99 years in prison with no possibility for discretionary parole until he served 50 years. The court of appeals reversed the 50-year parole restriction as clearly mistaken, and we granted the State of Alaska's petition for hearing on that issue. Because the trial court correctly applied the statutory restriction on parole after making sufficient findings supported by the record, we reverse the court of appeals and hold that the restriction was not excessive.

II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

In March 2005 Jimmy Jack Korkow killed his wife in their apartment, beating her and inflicting at least 62 stab wounds. The Korkows' three youngest daughters were in the apartment at the time; at least one of them was aware of the attack and moved from her bed into a closet. Korkow was convicted of first-degree murder after a jury trial. The trial court imposed the maximum sentence of 99 years with no suspended time and restricted Korkow's eligibility for discretionary parole beyond the 33-year statutory minimum until he served at least 50 years of his sentence. The trial court imposed its parole limitation in light of the severity of Korkow's actions, his lack of remorse, and the need to protect his children and the general public.

The court of appeals reversed the trial court's parole limitation as clearly mistaken, basing its decision on a presumption that when a lengthy sentence is imposed discretionary parole questions are better left to the Parole Board because it can evaluate the parole applicant's " tested response to Department of Corrections rehabilitative measures." [1] Reiterating language from its earlier cases, the court emphasized that trial courts " should not place ‘ inordinate emphasis ... on predictions of possible future misconduct,’ " [2] and concluded the trial court's concern that Korkow was a danger to his children and the public was " speculative ... at

Page 562

best." [3]

We granted the State's petition for hearing to consider: (1) the efficacy of the court of appeals' " presumption" ; and (2) what factors should be ...


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