Evenson takes plea deal in transit center death case

Juneau resident David Valentine Evenson pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide on Friday as part of a plea agreement following a fatal assault in June 2017.

Evenson, 52, could serve three years in prison and 10 years of probation, according to the plea agreement read in Juneau Superior Court on Friday. If accepted by the judge, the sentence, which Assistant Public Defender Eric Hedland read aloud in court Friday, would be six years in total with three years suspended.

Evenson was facing charges of criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter after a June 30, 2017 assault at the Downtown Transit Center that resulted in the death of 56-year-old Aaron G. Monette. There has been little information revealed in court about Monette. No friends or family of either Monette or Evenson were in the courtroom Friday.

The manslaughter charge was dismissed by prosecutors as part of the plea agreement, Hedland read aloud in court Friday. Evenson entered into the agreement and pleaded guilty. Ultimately, the sentence is up to Superior Judge Philip Pallenberg, who will also determine the exact conditions of Evenson’s probation at a June 29 sentencing hearing. A misdemeanor assault charge from another case, dating back to a Jan. 14, 2017 arrest, was also dismissed as part of the deal, Hedland said in court.

Assistant District Attorney Amy Paige concurred with the conditions of the deal in court Friday. In earlier hearings, Paige had said she believed Evenson displayed little regard for the well-being of others and an inability to control his temper. Hedland previously argued that evidence suggested that Monette was more of the aggressor in the scenario than Evenson was.

Evenson was initially unsure of the length of his probation period.

“To be honest, it’s been really sprung on me. I didn’t have prior notice of the plea agreement beforehand,” Evenson said in court. “I don’t want to drag things out. I really would just like to get on with my life. But in the interest of not having my own life dragged out, 10 years is a long time for a probationary period, in my opinion.”

Pallenberg explained to Evenson that the 10-year figure might change if Evenson complies with the conditions of his probation. For every month Evenson doesn’t violate his probation, Pallenberg explained in court, Evenson will earn one month off his sentence. Probation could last five years, Pallenberg told Evenson, who said he understood.

Evenson turned himself into police July 7, 2017 and he was arrested on charges of second-degree murder, criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter. A Juneau grand jury didn’t indict Evenson on the murder charge but did indict him on the other two charges.

Surveillance footage from the time reportedly showed Evenson punching Monette in the side of the head. An autopsy on Monette made a preliminary finding that a pre-existing aneurysm ruptured in the assault and was a contributing factor to Monette’s death, according to reports at the time.

The charge of criminally negligent homicide is a class B felony, Pallenberg said in court, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Manslaughter, Pallenberg said, is a more serious charge.

Most conditions of Evenson’s release have not been decided yet, but there are some listed in the plea agreement. The agreement, as Hedland read in court, forbids Evenson from drinking alcohol or going to liquor stores and bars. Pallenberg will determine more specific conditions in June.

Evenson could end up spending a year in rehab after his release, Hedland said in court. Evenson said he thought that was a good idea.

“I don’t mind going to treatment for a year,” Evenson said. “That was one of the things I was planning on doing anyway.”

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.

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