Juneau police officers testify about 2015 double murder

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.”

Juneau police officers testify about 2015 double murder

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.

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Dec. 3

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
Teachers and school board members talk during the Juneau Board of Education and Juneau Education Association’s annual meet and greet in mid November. JEA contract negotiation team declared impasse last Friday and are in the process of filing for federal mediation.
Juneau teachers union declares impasse amid drawn-out negotiations

Still, the teachers union and district express optimism about working toward agreement.

This photo shows an Alaska State Trooper patrol vehicle (Juneau Empire File)
Troopers: Man killed raven, consumed its tongue

No arrests or citations made at this time, but investigation is underway.

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Man sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to sex abuse of a minor

DNA and sex offender registration required as part of sentence.

Writers’ Weir: A window into the sea

A nonfiction story by Rodger Painter.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Thursday, Dec. 8

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

Kéet and Oscar wait patiently to play on the beach in winter in Wrangell. (Vivian Faith Prescott / For the Capital City Weekly)
Planet Alaska: Winter words

Phrases and words to use to create a Lingít language immersion outing in the winter.

Most Read