A Juneau resident accused of shooting and killing a man “execution style” in a Mendenhall Valley trailer park last month maintained his innocence during a court hearing Tuesday afternoon.
Christopher D. Strawn, 32, pleaded not guilty to first- and second-degree murder, as well as a host of other felony charges, in an arraignment held in Juneau Superior Court. The pleas were entered through Strawn’s court-appointed attorney.
A tentative trial date was set for Jan. 19, 2016, although the attorneys and Judge Philip Pallenberg acknowledged it would probably take longer for the case to go to trial. Murder cases usually take a year or more to get to that point.
As Strawn was escorted into the courtroom, he smiled at the Empire photographer taking his picture. He sat through the five-minute hearing quietly, shackled and sitting next to Assistant Public Defender Eric Hedland at the defendant’s table. Occasionally, he’d turn around to look at his girlfriend sitting in the back of the courtroom.
His girlfriend, Julie Lanz, 23, declined to comment after Tuesday’s hearing. She previously told the Empire that Strawn was wrongfully accused and isn’t a “monster.” She said they are expecting a baby in June.
“I can’t wait till your out babe, nobody knows but we don’t care what they say, they can think what they want. But I know you’ll be out soon baby I love you,” she wrote in the Facebook comments of an Empire article published Friday about Strawn being indicted for murder.
“The media is lying to you,” a meme she posted reads on the same comment thread.
Strawn has been held behind bars on $1 million cash bail since his Oct. 21 arrest.
Prosecutors say Strawn shot and killed 30-year-old Brandon C. Cook at the Kodzoff Acres Mobile Home Park on Mendenhall Loop Road the night of Oct. 20. Cook was helping a friend paint the kitchen in her new trailer at the time, and Strawn had been hired to assist in the trailer renovations by the friend at the recommendation of her landlord.
Assistant District Attorney Amy Paige said previously in court that Strawn left the trailer that night, came back with a shotgun and shot Cook “execution style” in the back of the head. Strawn then told Cook’s friend, Tiffany Albertson, who was standing just a few feet away from Cook when he was shot, that he wasn’t going to hurt her; Albertson ran from the kitchen into the backroom and called 911, a police affidavit indicates. Albertson will likely be the state’s key witness should the case go to trial.
The Juneau Police Department has not yet speculated as to what motivated the shooting, which appears to have been unprovoked and unforeseen. ADA Paige noted in court that drugs may have been involved on Strawn’s part.
A Juneau grand jury indicted Strawn on Friday for first- and second-degree murder, manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in connection to Cook’s death. He was also charged with third-degree assault for placing Albertson in fear of injury during the shooting and for weapons misconduct for possessing a gun while being a convicted felon.
Police have not yet found the shotgun used in the shooting and do not know how Strawn obtained the firearm or who it is registered to.