Tanana man sentenced in deaths of state troopers

FAIRBANKS — A rural Alaska man who shot and killed two Alaska State Troopers has been sentenced to 203 years in prison.

Nathanial Kangas, 22, was sentenced Wednesday without the possibility of parole, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

He had been found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Sgt. Scott Johnson and Trooper Gabe Rich in May 2014. The jury in May also returned special verdicts on each murder charge, saying the officers were both in uniform and were clearly identifiable as peace officers performing their duties when killed. The mandatory sentence for each murder count is a 99-year prison term without the possibility of parole.

The officers were shot at Kangas’ home in the village of Tanana as they attempted to arrest Kangas’ father for threatening a village public safety officer.

Kangas’ father, Arvin Kangas, was convicted of evidence tampering for manipulating the troopers’ bodies and guns after they died. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.

The younger Kangas was also ordered Wednesday to pay a $5,000 fine and more than $2.6 million in restitution.

Before Judge Paul Lyle handed down the sentence, the victim’s families read statements to the court. Johnson’s wife, Brandy, described the difficulty of raising their three daughters without her husband.

“He missed his first child’s graduation and departure for college. He missed our two younger daughters playing volleyball and our 20th wedding anniversary. I have realized how bittersweet life is every single moment without Scott,” Brandy Johnson said.

Rich’s father, David, said his grandsons would have to grow up without their father and he put part of the blame on Kangas’ parents.

“Although I agree you should spend the rest of your life in prison for what you did, the real criminals in this sad affair are your parents,” David Rich said. “Your father for his setting an example of misplaced hatred, mistrust and blatant disrespect for authority, and your mother for her ignorance and apathy in witnessing and ultimately being a party to your father’s repeated displays of despicable, anti-social behavior.”

When it was Kangas’ turn to speak, the Tanana man apologized for his actions.

“I know they were good people. I apologize to everyone that I’ve affected. I’m sorry. Truly sorry,” Kangas said.

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