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Jury selected in slain Hoonah officers case

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Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 4:01 pm

JUNEAU, Alaska - A jury was selected Wednesday to hear the trial of a man accused of killing two police officers in the village of Hoonah in 2010.

The panel of three women and 11 men was chosen in the late afternoon, after a day that included defense arguments to have the trial of John Marvin Jr. moved out of Juneau. That request was denied.

Opening arguments are scheduled to begin Thursday.

Marvin was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two weapons counts after the Aug. 28, 2010, deaths of Sgt. Anthony Wallace, 32, and Officer Matthew Tokuoka, 39, of the Hoonah Police Department. The two were gunned down in front of Marvin's home in the Native village, on an island about 40 miles west of Juneau.

Prosecutors say the officers were ambushed as they were talking on the street. Family members of the two were present at the time of the shooting.

Marvin barricaded himself inside his residence in a standoff with law enforcement officials for about 36 hours before surrendering.

He initially was declared incompetent to stand trial but was cleared to proceed in June. Defense attorney Eric Hedland sought another competency hearing last week after complaining that Marvin was unwilling or unable to communicate with him. That evaluation was conducted in Anchorage, and Sitka Superior Court Judge David George on Friday found him competent to stand trial.

Wednesday's proceedings began with Hedland seeking a change of venue. He argued there has been extensive publicity surrounding the trial, and he expressed doubts that an impartial jury could be seated. Hedland said nearly all jurors questioned had heard initial reports about the incident, and none said they thought Marvin might be innocent.

District Attorney David Brower said he believed there were more than enough people in the jury pool qualified to hear the case.

Marvin sat next to Hedland Wednesday, at times leafing through papers. He wore a brown shirt and white pants, with chains around his ankles.

George, who is presiding over the trial, said prospective jurors' exposure to publicity could be broken into three areas: reports at the time of the incident, recent publicity about Marvin being found legally competent to stand trial, and coverage of the officers' memorials.

"I don't think that's intensive or inflammatory publicity, quite frankly," the judge said.

George said he'd be willing to visit the issue later, if necessary. The jury selection process then continued.

Ultimately, 12 jurors will decide the case. George said he would announce the alternates later.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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