Defendant in homicide case will return to Juneau

A former Juneau resident listened to a Juneau judge 500 miles away over the phone Tuesday as she made her first court appearance in connection to a year-old homicide.

Nora Edith Thomas, 28, spoke only briefly to Judge Thomas Nave during a hearing in Juneau District Court as he explained that she would be extradited as quickly as possible to Juneau from the Mat-Su Pre-Trial Facility where she is currently being held.

Nave expressed concern that Thomas have time in Juneau to speak with her public defender, Eric Hedland, before her next court hearing.

Alaska authorities arrested Thomas Jan. 29 on suspicion of second-degree murder for the death of 50-year-old Christopher K. Kenney.

According to charging court documents quoting Juneau Police Department Sgt. Dominic Branson, Thomas was Kenney’s girlfriend at the time of his death. She shared a Gruening Park apartment with him and three children, one of which was hers and the other two Kenney’s. At 5:26 a.m. Nov. 29, 2014, Thomas called JPD to report Kenney fell and a knife landed in his chest.

“Thomas said she was awakened by Kenney [sic] yelling in the living room ‘call 911,’” Branson said in the police complaint filed in court. “Thomas said she got up and when she found Kenney, he was bleeding from the chest and was trying to exit the apartment.”

Thomas told police officers at the time that she pulled Kenney back into the apartment as she began calling 911, according to court documents.

Detectives later contacted a witness in the same apartment building who reportedly told officers he was awake in the early morning when Kenney was stabbed and that he heard a man scream, followed immediately by a woman screaming, the complaint states. When the witness checked the hallways to find out what happened, he reported seeing Kenney trying to leave his apartment.

“(The witness) said as Kenney exited his apartment, he saw two arms reach out from inside the apartment, grab Kenney and pull him back inside before closing the door,” according to court documents.

An autopsy by the State of Alaska Medical Examiner’s Office later found that Kenney’s cause of death was a stab wound to the chest. He also had a cut on his wrist, but it did not have the markings of a defensive wound, according to the report, as summarized in the police complaint.

More than a year later, JPD Detective Nicholas Garza — one of the responding officers the morning of the stabbing — was sent to Wasilla (where Thomas moved shortly after the incident) to help the Wasilla and Palmer police departments in the investigation. During an interview Jan. 27, Thomas revealed to Garza that she was physically and mentally abused by Kenney, according to the charging document.

On Jan. 28, outside Thomas’ home in Wasilla, Thomas also reportedly told Garza an argument preceded Kenney’s stabbing.

According to the police complaint, Kenney woke Thomas up at 4 a.m., something he normally did, and it led to an argument. He alledgedly pushed her, then she grabbed a knife, she told Garza, according to the complaint.

“She said she does not remember the moment when the knife went into Kenney’s chest,” Garza said in the police complaint.

Thomas remains in custody in lieu of $250,000 bond. Her next court appearance is Friday for a preliminary hearing. That hearing will be vacated if an indictment is reached before then.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect the parentage of the three children inside the home.

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