Petition for Rehearing Granted in Part December 10, 2019
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
from the Superior Court, Third Judicial District, Anchorage,
Jack W. Smith, Judge. Trial Court No. 3AN-11-12129 CR
D. Friedman, Law Office of Elizabeth D. Friedman, Redding,
California, under contract with the Office of Public
Advocacy, Anchorage, for the Appellant/Cross-Appellee.
Black, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Criminal
Appeals, Anchorage, and Jahna Lindemuth, Attorney General,
Juneau, for the Appellee/Cross-Appellant.
Allard, Chief Judge, and Wollenberg and Harbison, Judges.
Following a jury trial, Yoder Austin Blalock was convicted of
second-degree murder for killing Nathan Tanape. Blalock was
sentenced to 60 years with 15 years suspended (45 years to
serve) and was placed on probation for a period of 10 years.
to trial, Blalock moved to suppress the statements he made to
the police, both at the scene of his arrest and later at the
police station. Blalock argued that, because he had requested
an attorney at the scene, any subsequent questioning by the
police in the absence of an attorney violated the United
States Supreme Courts decision in Edwards v.
Arizona . Under Edwards, the police are
precluded from initiating further interrogation of a suspect
who has invoked his right to counsel, until counsel has been
evidentiary hearing, the trial court agreed with Blalock and
precluded the prosecutor from introducing Blalocks
statements as part of the States case-in-chief. But the
court later found that the officers conduct was neither
intentional nor egregious. Accordingly, applying Alaska
Evidence Rule 412 (as interpreted by this Court in State
v. Batts  ), the trial court allowed the
prosecutor to impeach Blalocks testimony with his statements
to the police.
appeal, Blalock challenges the trial courts ruling
permitting the State to use his statements to impeach him
during cross-examination. The State cross-appeals, arguing
that the trial court erred in granting Blalocks motion to
suppress. In particular, the State argues that Blalock was
not subject to a custodial interrogation at the time he asked
for a lawyer and that he was not entitled to anticipatorily
invoke his Miranda rights. Because we conclude that
the trial court did not err in allowing the impeachment use
of Blalocks statements and because we otherwise affirm
Blalocks conviction, we need not decide the issues raised in
the States cross-appeal.
trial, Blalock defended on the ground of self-defense, and
the trial court instructed the jury on this defense. Blalock
asked the trial court to instruct the jury on the "Stand
Your Ground" amendment — a 2013 statutory
enactment that narrowed a persons duty to retreat before
using deadly force in self-defense. Under this amendment,
there is no duty to retreat if the person is "in any ...
place where the person has a right to be." The trial
court concluded that the "Stand Your Ground" law
was not retroactively applicable to Blalocks case, which was
based on events occurring in 2011, and the trial court
declined to instruct the jury on it.
Blalock now challenges the trial courts decision. For the
reasons explained here, we agree with the trial court that
the statutory amendment did not apply retroactively to
Blalocks case. We therefore uphold the trial courts
decision declining to instruct the jury on the 2013 law.
Finally, Blalock raises several challenges to his sentence.
We have reviewed his claims, and we find no merit to them.
night in October 2011, Blalock drove to Tanapes apartment
where Blalocks acquaintance, Charles Alexie, and several
other people were partying. Outside of the apartment, Blalock
encountered Tanape. When Blalock was standing about ten feet
away from Tanape, Tanape yelled at him to leave.
Blalock began walking back to his truck, saying, "Just
wait right there, I got something for you." Blalock took
something out of his truck and walked back toward Tanape.
Blalock and Tanape faced off. Blalock sprayed Tanape with
pepper spray and slashed him with a knife. Tanape went to the
ground; he then grabbed Blalock by the legs, picked him up,
and slammed him to the ground.
ran toward Blalock and Tanape to intervene, but Blalock
sprayed Alexie with pepper spray, causing Alexie to fall to
the ground and have difficulty breathing. Tanape and Blalock
struggled, and then Blalock got up, ran back to his truck,
and drove away, leaving Tanape lying in the middle of the
ran back inside the apartment, covering his eyes, and yelling
for someone to call 911. Tanape came inside soon after
Alexie, covered in blood and unable to speak.
officers responded to the apartment. When they arrived, they
noticed an overwhelming smell of pepper spray and observed
Tanape sitting in a chair. He had wounds on his legs and
knees, a large laceration on his head, and what appeared to
be a stab wound to the back of his neck.
after the officers arrived, Tanape was transported to the
hospital where he was pronounced dead. The medical examiner
determined that Tanape had suffered over twenty stab wounds,
including one that was fatal.
Blalock fled the scene, he called 911 several times to report
that he was involved in the incident. Officers located
Blalock and arrested him. They then took him to the Anchorage
Police Department where detectives read him a
Miranda warning. Blalock agreed to be interviewed by
the detectives, and he made incriminating statements during
was subsequently charged with second-degree murder for
stabbing Tanape to death. The case proceeded to trial, and
Blalock was convicted of second-degree murder.
Litigation of Blalocks motion to suppress and the use of
his statements as impeachment evidence
to trial, Blalock moved to suppress the statements he made
during his arrest and subsequent interview. Blalock asserted
that he had clearly invoked his right to counsel during his
arrest and that the on-scene police officers did not report
the invocation to the detectives who later interrogated him.
He contended that once he invoked his right to counsel, the
Supreme Courts decision in Edwards v. Arizona
precluded the police from initiating an interrogation with
him until an attorney was present. Although the detectives
read him his Miranda rights prior to interrogating
him at the station, Blalock asserted that his statements had
to be suppressed because they were obtained in violation of
the Edwards rule.
evidence presented at the evidentiary hearing on Blalocks
motion showed that when the officers first confronted
Blalock, he made statements about the incident. In response,
one of the officers activated his recorder.
recording captured the conversations between Blalock and the
officers as follows: Blalock initially made a variety of
spontaneous statements, including repeatedly asking, "Is
he okay?" At one point, an officer asked Blalock where
his truck was located. Blalock responded, "Oh, its
safe. I want to talk to a lawyer." The officer replied,
"Whats that?" Blalock did not repeat his request
for a lawyer.
Instead, Blalock continued making rambling statements. For
example, he said, "Well ... is (indiscernible) going to
be okay or not? Fuck, when I — And when I first got
away, the last time I ...