Prosecutors Daniel K. Shorey and Kate Tallmadge (foreground) confer, as defense attorney Rex Butler and Sonya Taton await proceedings during Taton’s trial Thursday on murder and other charges at Superior Court in Juneau. (Meredith Jordan / Juneau Empire)

Prosecutors Daniel K. Shorey and Kate Tallmadge (foreground) confer, as defense attorney Rex Butler and Sonya Taton await proceedings during Taton’s trial Thursday on murder and other charges at Superior Court in Juneau. (Meredith Jordan / Juneau Empire)

Jury begins deliberations in fillet knife murder case

Closing arguments conclude Thursday afternoon after two week-plus trial.

The fate of Sonya Taton, the woman accused of fatally stabbing Gregory Bowen with a fillet knife in 2019 and a similar non-fatal incident in 2016, is now up to a jury.

Closing arguments concluded at about 1:40 p.m. Thursday at Superior Court in Juneau. The courtroom was packed, primarily with friends and family of Bowen, a deckboss on commercial fishing vessels who worked in the community for decades.

Bowen was stabbed on June 17, 2019, in his home in Channel View Terrace Mobile Home Park and was medevaced to a Seattle hospital where he died 12 days later.

The consolidated trial included five counts, four of them stemming from Bowen’s death, and one for what prosecutors contend was a similar case, an alleged stabbing by Taton of then-boyfriend Michael Garrison on Feb. 13, 2016.

Defense counsel Rex Butler told the jury during closing arguments Taton was acting in self-defense when she stabbed Bowen, and the incident involving Garrison was an accident.

Taton was tried on two counts of second-degree murder, manslaughter and assault in the first degree for Bowen’s death. The prosecution, led by Assistant Attorney General Daniel K. Shorey structured the case that way to give the jury options in the event it was uncomfortable with a second-degree murder conviction.

Shorey explained each of the counts during closing arguments, reviewed the law, and showed the jury the large white-handled filet knife wrapped in plastic-covered casing.

Butler spent his time going over testimony of various witnesses.

Prosecutors had noted the similarity of the two cases, depicting the alleged first-degree assault of Garrison as an example of Taton’s conduct as an abusive partner.

Butler pointed to a recording of an injured Bowen talking to police from the gurney in the emergency room, which he said showed Taton had been defending herself. In the recording, Bowen tells the officer he had Taton by the throat to hold her back after she struck him with her fists.

But Shorey reminded jurors of the first person to take the stand, Mabel Pittman, who raised children with Bowen. She had known him for many years, including as an intimate partner, and violence was completely out of character, she said. The daughter Bowen raised testified similarly, as did others who knew him.

Butler told the jury the prosecution was trying to link cases that weren’t the same.

The 2016 incident involved Garrison trying to prevent Taton from injuring herself. She had the knife at her own throat, and in the process of the encounter he yanked the knife down and into his leg and his femoral artery.

“It was an accident,” he said.

On the stand, Garrison acknowledged that his hands were on the knife during the tussle, Butler said.

At the time it happened, Garrison was treated at the hospital for a stab wound to his femoral artery. He told police and hospital staff it happened when he climbed through a window.

He testified at trial that he wasn’t honest because he wanted to protect Taton. Garrison said he loved her and didn’t want her to lose her children, and also that he was embarrassed.

The prosecution presented 28 witnesses in the course of the trial, which is now in its third week. It began with jury selection on Nov. 2.

Jurors adjourned without a verdict Thursday and are scheduled to resume deliberations Friday.

• Contact Meredith Jordan at meredith.jordan@juneauempire.com or (907) 615-3190.

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