Leron Carlton Graham, 38, reads through court documents during jury selection in Juneau Superior Court on Tuesday. Graham is representing himself on 14 counts of allegedly assaulting a woman and stealing a car in the Lemon Creek area in March.

Leron Carlton Graham, 38, reads through court documents during jury selection in Juneau Superior Court on Tuesday. Graham is representing himself on 14 counts of allegedly assaulting a woman and stealing a car in the Lemon Creek area in March.

Inmate defends himself, blames ‘corrupt’ police

During an opening statement Tuesday in a felony assault, robbery, theft and tampering case, the defense said the real blame belongs not to the man in court wearing an orange jumpsuit, but to the Juneau Police Department.

The person who delivered that opening statement also happened to be a Lemon Creek Correctional Center inmate.

“This is an intricate plot that did not start on March 17. This story goes way back,” said Laron Carlton Graham, a man on trial for four felony and 10 misdemeanor charges.

Graham, 38, decided to act as his own defense in Juneau’s Superior Court after dismissing three court-appointed attorneys. Some of Graham’s charges stem from a March 17 incident when he allegedly threatened to throw a woman out of her top-floor Gruening Park apartment in front of her infant child, slapped her, then proceeded to steal a vehicle she had borrowed from a friend, according to an affidavit prepared by the prosecution. Other recent charges are the result of calls Graham made from inside LCCC, asking the victim to drop all the charges despite a court order that Graham not contact her.

The unusual case of an inmate defending himself against 14 charges that could cost him 35 years in prison was made more curious Tuesday when he admitted to nine of the charges — seven unlawful contact misdemeanors, one misdemeanor for ignoring a domestic violence protection order, and one first-degree felony of tampering with a witness’ testimony — in his opening statement.

“I don’t deny that any of these phone calls took place,” Graham told the jury, following that confession by addressing the confusion he saw on people’s faces. “Some of y’all may say, ‘Well, we’re looking at a fool,’ … (the other lawyers) wanted me to shut up. They didn’t want me to speak to the jury, but see, Mr. Graham ain’t got nothing to hide.”

Graham insisted on several occasions in court that he was on an equal playing field with the prosecution and not at a disadvantage because he didn’t have a lawyer. He equated the legal system to a game of chess and said he was the understudy of chess champion Bobby Fischer, and he would use the courtroom to reveal “corruption, collusion (and) conspiracy” by JPD. He said he also refused offers by court officials to dress him in street clothes and instead he wanted to be real with the jury and show them who he really is, orange jump suit and all.

Graham told the jury that he moved to Juneau with another woman last year and that he’s originally from Philadelphia. He met the victim and started a romantic relationship with her shortly after, also developing a relationship with her two children, one elementary-aged girl and one infant girl. But sometime after October, he said JPD officers began to follow him and were attempting to pin a murder on him, although he did not say which murder.

He said he believes JPD coerced the victim with threats of taking her children away to make her comply in a plot to bring him.

“You do remember the conversation that we had about OCS, right?” Graham said, seeming to quote a message he found on the victim’s cell phone from JPD detective Matt DuBois. “So can I let OCS know that you will fully cooperate?”

Actual screen images of the conversation were not shown in court, although Graham did say he plans on presenting texts as evidence during the trial.

Assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp avoided talks about corruption and conspiracy in her opening statement Tuesday, instead laying the groundwork for a case she said is based solely on a man who was motivated by jealousy and later, when desperate for a way out of jail, tried to manipulate the victim to drop the charges.

“Tell them that you were too drunk and you don’t remember,” Kemp said, acting out a phone conversation between Graham and the victim.

The actual first day of trial only allowed time for one witness to testify, and that was John Hinkleman, the man the victim spent the evening with before her alleged attack by Graham. Prosecution asked him to confirm his involvement with the victim and to verify it was his car that Graham allegedly stole. Hinkleman did just that.

Graham followed up by asking Hinkleman if he was persuaded by JPD to press charges, and if he knew for sure who it was who stole his car March 17. Hinkleman said the police did not pressure him, and that he only knew what police told him: that Graham was the one who stole the car.

The trial will continue today with the victim and JPD officers taking the stand. Audio from phone calls is also expected to be played for jury members.

• Contact reporter Paula Ann Solis at paula.solis@juneauempire.com or call (907) 523-2272.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of June 22

Here’s what to expect this week.

Eddie Petrie shovels gravel into a mine cart as fast as possible during the men’s hand mucking competition as part of Juneau Gold Rush Days on Saturday at Savikko Park. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Mucking, trucking, chucking and yukking it up at Juneau Gold Rush Days

Logging competitions, live music, other events continue Sunday at Savikko Park.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, June 20, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Pins supporting the repeal of ranked choice voting are seen on April 20 at the Republican state convention in Anchorage. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
State judge upholds most fines against group seeking repeal of Alaska ranked choice voting

An Anchorage Superior Court judge has ruled that opponents of Alaska’s ranked… Continue reading

Joshua Midgett and Kelsey Bryce Riker appear on stage as the emcees for MixCast 2023 at the Crystal Saloon. (Photo courtesy Juneau Ghost Light Theatre)
And now for someone completely different: Familiar faces show new personas at annual MixCast cabaret

Fundraiser for Juneau Ghost Light Theatre on Saturday taking place amidst week of local Pride events

Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire
A section of Angoon along the coast is seen on June 14. Angoon was destroyed by the U.S. Navy in 1882; here is where they first pulled up to shore.
Long-awaited U.S. Navy apology for 1882 bombardment will bring healing to Angoon

“How many times has our government apologized to any American Native group?”

Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon announced this week she plans to seek a third three-year term. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Mayor Beth Weldon seeking third term amidst personal and political challenges

Low mill rate, more housing cited by lifelong Juneau resident as achievements during past term.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, June 19, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A king salmon is laid out for inspection by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at the Mike Pusich Douglas Harbor during the Golden North Salmon Derby on Aug. 25, 2019. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Emergency order bans king salmon fishing in many Juneau waters between June 24 and Aug. 31

Alaska Department of Fish and Game says low projected spawning population necessitates restrictions

Most Read