Jury hears closing arguments in Alaska troopers murder trial

FAIRBANKS — Nathanial Kangas reacted impulsively when he shot and killed two Alaska State Troopers at his home in the village of Tanana, his attorney told jurors at Kangas’ murder trial Friday.

Defense attorney Greg Parvin in closing arguments Friday asked jurors to consider the state of mind of Kangas on May 1, 2014, and convict him of manslaughter, not murder, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/1TCu5yd) reported.

Kangas was a “good, well-mannered” young man who reacted impulsively to “what he perceived as a lethal threat to his father,” Parvin said.

“He was reacting to a crisis situation in his mind,” Parvin said.

Kangas, 22, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder, assault and evidence tampering in the deaths of Trooper Sgt. Scott Johnson and Trooper Gabe Rich.

They had traveled to Tanana to arrest Kangas’ father, Arvid Kangas, who was suspected of threatening Tanana’s village public safety officer with a gun.

During a struggle to arrest Arvid Kangas, he and the officers tumbled into Kangas’ home. Investigators said Nathanial Kangas fired seven rifle shots, killing the officers at close range.

Parvin told jurors that Nathanial was a victim of his father’s indoctrination.

“He was a kid whose father saturated him in vitriol and hate,” Parvin said. “He did not intend to cause their death. The evidence in this case shows it’s manslaughter.”

District Attorney Greggory Olson told jurors the state had proved Nathanial meant to kill the troopers.

“His shots were accurate and they were precision. Remember where his father was? His father didn’t get shot,” Olson said.

Kangas could not use the excuse of defending someone to justify killing the officers, Olson said.

“The court has instructed you that defense of others is not applicable. If he killed those two troopers to defend his father, that’s intentional,” Olson said.

Jurors heard audio from recorders worn by both officers. The elder Kangas was recorded arguing with troopers and telling them they would have to kill him if they want to arrest him.

The sound clips recorded seven shots fired, followed by distressed howls from Nathanial. They also recorded the sounds of the officers’ service pistols removed from their holsters and rounds chambered in what investigators said was an attempt to make it appear that Johnson and Rich had drawn their weapons.

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