Juneau police officers testify about 2015 double murder

First officers on scene testify about case

Editor’s Note: Graphic details of the killings could be offensive or disturbing to some readers.

The jury trial against a man charged with fatally shooting two people in Douglas in 2015 entered its second week Tuesday, with more testimony from police officers who responded to the initial 911 call.

“When I entered the condo, I saw a male laying on his right side. There was a lot of blood around his head and under the couch,” Officer James Esbenshade said in Juneau Superior Court. “I saw a female laying on the couch. She was laying with her back to me.”

Laron Carlton Graham, 42, is standing trial on two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Elizabeth Tonsmeire and Robert Meireis.

Officer John Cryderman testified he was on the scene minutes after Esbenshade. After Esbenshade arrived, he said he rapidly investigated the apartment, escorted a Capital City Fire/Rescue paramedic to assess the victims, and made sure the scene was safe. After doing that, he secured the area with help from Cryderman and Sgt. Brian Dallas, a patrol sergeant.

[Double murder trial shines light on Juneau drug scene]

Esbenshade said that after arrived on the scene, he and other officers began canvassing the area, talking to neighbors.

“I don’t know where you live, but I assume you know more about who comes and goes from your neighborhood better than I do,” Dallas said during cross-examination from defense attorney Natasha Norris. “Some of your best resources are the people who live in the actual neighborhood.”

Dallas testified that he assessed the scene to let the investigative unit know what kind of resources they’d likely need. He said he didn’t touch anything, but he could see the scene was a serious one. He called Detective Matt Dubois to let him know that it would require more personnel on the scene to investigate than just Dubois himself.

Police sergeant testifies on crime scene photos, drug use in double murder trial

“There was blood on her face, and possibly a powder burn from a gunshot,” Dallas said during cross-examination.

Powder burns can come from the close range discharge of a firearm where unexploded fragments of gunpowder are driven into the skin, causing a distinctive stippling pattern, Dallas said.

“I was expecting to find a firearm there,” Dallas said. “If there wasn’t one there, that was going to require more explaining.”

The trial, which is slated to last six weeks, will continue Wednesday.


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


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