An Alaska prosecutor urged jurors to disregard Robert Kowalski’s account of the death of his girlfriend and convict him of murder in the 18-year-old case.
Following final arguments, a Juneau jury began deliberations in the trial of Kowalski, 53, who fired a shotgun that killed Sandra Perry at around 3 a.m. on July 21, 1996, in Room 10 of Yakutat’s Glacier Bear Lodge, the Juneau Empire (http://bit.ly/1i9cUFB) reported.
Assistant Public Defender Eric Hedland urged jurors to acquit Kowalski, arguing the death of Perry was considered an accident in 1996 and the only thing that has changed since the Alaska investigation is Kowalski’s later legal problems, he said.
Kowalski, whose last address was Creston, Mont., was convicted of criminally negligent homicide in the 2008 shooting death of another girlfriend, Lorraine Kay Morin, near her house in Columbia Falls. Both women were shot in the head at close range, and Kowalski claimed both were accidents.
In the Montana case, Kowalski fled to his home afterward and was arrested after a 31-hour standoff.
Kowalski was not charged initially in the Alaska case, and Alaska State Troopers even destroyed evidence because officers concluded it would never go to trial, Hedland said.
Assistant Attorney General James Fayette told jurors the delay in prosecution was a miscarriage of justice.
“It’s not too late to correct that injustice now,” Fayette said. “Mr. Kowalski killed Sandra Perry, ended her life suddenly, unfairly.”
Perry, 39, was from the Seattle area. Kowalski was 35 and also from Washington in 1996.
Kowalski did not testify at the trial but told investigators he and Perry heard a noise outside their lodge room. He grabbed a 12-gauge shotgun, he said, and walked to the window as Perry sat on the bed. He walked back from the window, tripped on a bed leg and fell on Perry, he said.
Perry startled him by saying “Boo!” he said. He pushed himself off her and the gun fired, he said.
Fayette told jurors the story was not credible.
“Why do you have to pick up the 12-gauge shotgun? You’re inside a hotel room. Do you really think a bear’s going to jump through the window or break down the door? It’s ridiculous,” he said. “It’s a silly story.”
The shooting was during a heated argument, Fayette said, and the location of the shot was not a coincidence.
“If it’s an accidental shooting or just a goofy shooting, what happens?” he asked. “A round might hit the ceiling, or it might hit the floor, or it might hit somebody in the arm or go at a crazy angle or go through someone’s foot, but right at the head? And that’s an accident? Come on.”
Hedland said no argument preceded the shooting. Kowalski was not immediately charged, Hedland said, because he cooperated with investigators and his account of the incident matched evidence found at the scene.
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