The trial of Laron Carlton Graham for the murder of Elizabeth Tonsmeire and Robby Meireis continued in Juneau on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

The trial of Laron Carlton Graham for the murder of Elizabeth Tonsmeire and Robby Meireis continued in Juneau on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Defense calls final witnesses before resting, suggests another suspect in killing

Inmates highlight possible other suspect

As the defense called its final witness, the trial for a 2015 double murder may have been winding up.

Natasha Norris, defense attorney for defendant Laron Carlton Graham, 42, called two witnesses Thursday in the trial of the deaths of Elizabeth Tonsmeire, 34, and Robby Meireis, 36.

Zachary Stubblefield was the first witness to take the stand. An inmate at Lemon Creek Correctional Center, Stubblefield was reluctant to respond to questions.

“I ain’t here to be labeled or get anybody in trouble,” Stubblefield said during cross-examination. “I don’t have anything to say.”

Stubblefield contacted Detective Kathy Underwood, mother of a friend of his, to tell her he had been threatened by Jose Delgado, who allegedly pulled a gun on him over another issue, some time after the murders. Underwood’s recording of the event was played before the court.

“The same s—- that happened over in Douglas is going to happen to me,” Stubblefield says on the recording of the interview.

Stubblefield was uncooperative and vulgar during testimony, blustering and muttering, eventually being censured by Judge Phillip Pallenberg for his lack of cooperation and uncouth bearing. Clamming up during cross-examination, Stubblefield adamantly maintained that his heavy heroin and meth usage during the time had rendered his memory ineffective, and was eventually released from the stand.

Defense calls final witnesses before resting, suggests another suspect in killing

Tiffany Spaulding was next to testify. At the time of the killings, Spaulding and Meireis had been in a relationship for roughly four months. The weekend of Nov. 13, Meireis told Spaulding that he was going over to the Admiralty Condos where Tonsmeire lived, whom Spaulding also knew. Spaulding confirmed Meireis’ prickly attitude.

“He didn’t really like to be around people he didn’t know,” Spaulding said during direct examination. “He was paranoid and cautious and someone could have always been out to get him.”

Meireis sold and used meth, Spaulding said during direct examination, but she never knew him to use or distribute heroin, the drug Graham was alleged to have killed Meireis over.

On Nov. 15, 2015, Spaulding heard that there was a murder over at the Admiralty Condos and decided to go there.

“I didn’t know where that was. I had to Google it,” Spaulding said. “I knew Robby was there last. He told me he was going there.”

Meireis caught a ride with Delgado and someone else who she said she couldn’t remember. She said when she arrived, the scene was already taped off, and when she asked what had happened, she received a vague and unhelpful answer from the police.

“We got there, and I saw Salisbury and few of the other officers going into the condo, so I made my own assumption,” Spaulding said.

[Case officer in 2015 double murder continues testimony]

After Spaulding was released from the stand back to LCCC, where she was incarcerated, Norris lined out some of her facts while the jury was absent, building a case for Delgado as the killer rather than her client Graham.

Norris said Delgado was the last phone call Meireis had before user activity on his phone ceased, talking briefly, Norris said. Delgado visited the crime scene twice that day, once with Spaulding and once again later, taking picture, according to Norris. JPD’s attempts to contact Delgado were either ignored or rebuffed with obscenity, Norris said.

“There is plenty to lay out reasonable doubt,” Norris said to Pallenberg.

The trial will go into the closing arguments on Monday morning at 8:30 a.m.


• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 523-2271 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.


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