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Police shooter's trial goes to jury

No verdict has been returned as of this morning in the murder trial of Anthony Jenkins-Alexie. The jury began deliberating yesterday afternoon. He is accused of shooting Fairbanks City Police Sergeant Allen Brandt with the intention of killing him. The shooting was October 16, 2016 and opening remarks in Jenkins-Alexie’s trial were last Tuesday and the prosecution and defense presented closing arguments yesterday.

The discussion was about intent.

The prosecution wanted to show the jury that Jenkins-Alexie, then 29 years old, fully intended to shoot a police officer to avenge a friend’s killing. The defense maintains Jenkins was too intoxicated that October night to even form intent.

And intent matters because it is a factor in whether one is guilty of first-degree murder.

District Attorney Gregg Olson reminded the jury of the dashcam video recordings that showed Jenkins walking around Brandt’s police car.

“Do you remember the chart that showed the pattern of shell casings? From that pattern, you could tell that he kept shooting, and kept shooting Sergeant Brandt. He ran out of bullets.”

Olson said Jenkins was avenging the death of his friend James Richards, who was killed by Fairbanks police in August, 2016.  He reviewed other evidence he said showed clear intent, such as a hand-written letter found a couple of days after the incident in which Jenkins says he wanted to find someone from FPD – Fairbanks police department … and a recording of a rap song Jenkins wrote a year after the killing describing the crime.

Defense attorney Justin Racette dismissed the rap song as “artistic expression,” and showing off in jail.

“It’s a year later. Its an artistic expression. He’s got people he needs to look tough around. There’s a history in rap music of fictionalizing events, or embellishing events or making things up and boasting.”

Racette also told the jurors his client was in deep grief after police killed his friend months before. He became paranoid and drank heavily, and sought suicide counseling. Racette argued Jenkins was too intoxicated to know what he was doing when he shot Sgt. Allen Brandt.

“Mr. Jenkins did have a substantial amount of grief, depression, contributing to his substance abuse, about the death of James Richards. So, it’s not as though it had nothing to do with his state of mind that night. But vengeance was not the motive here.”

No one disputes that Jenkins-Alexie shot Sergeant Brandt, but the defense told the jury, that was not what killed the officer, who died 12 days later after surgery in Anchorage to remove a piece of shrapnel from his eye. A blot clot in his lungs, called a pulmonary embolism, caused his heart to stop.

Racette argued that sometimes a pulmonary embolism kills an otherwise healthy person with no risk factors. He also recounted the Anchorage doctors’ decision not to give Brandt blood-thinning drugs when he showed symptoms of blood clots after his eye surgery.

“Two possibilities. One is the pulmonary emboli were unrelated to the injuries suffered by Brandt. The other option is the pulmonary emboli were related, and were mismanaged medically in a way that supercedes anything Mr. Jenkins did.”

The prosecution spoke to the jury one last time, sarcastically rejecting the blood-clot theories.

Judge Mike McConahy gave the jury instructions to determine guilt or not for each of the charges against Jenkins-Alexie, who is accused of first- and second-degree murder, first-degree assault, stealing a car, stealing a firearm, weapons misconduct, and tampering with evidence.

Jenkins-Alexie is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder, first-degree assault, first-degree vehicle theft, second-degree theft of a firearm, second- and third-degree weapons misconduct and two counts of tampering with physical evidence.