Jury selection began Thursday in the murder trial of Sonya Taton, a Juneau woman accused of using a fillet knife to stab a man she was involved with in June 2019.
The trial will include a separate domestic, non-fatal stabbing assault allegation from 2016, after the court approved the state’s motion to consolidate the cases in May.
Attorney Rex Butler, who is representing Taton, told the court he plans to argue self-defense. The trial is expected to last through Nov. 17, said Daniel K. Shorey, assistant attorney general, who is prosecuting the case.
Taton, 46, is being tried on charges of first-degree assault and second-degree murder in the death of 61-year-old Gregory Bowen. He was stabbed on the evening of June 17, 2019, at a residence in Channel View Terrace Mobile Home Park, according to the prosecution’s trial brief.
Bowen, 61, was medevaced to Seattle for surgery, but died on June 29 of complications associated with the injury.
The second first-degree assault charge stems from a Feb. 13, 2016, incident in which Taton is accused of stabbing Michael Garrison in the leg, according to the prosecution’s trial brief.
At the time, Garrison was treated at the hospital for the injury, but told a different story about what happened. He said he had crawled through a window about nine feet off the ground, cutting his femoral artery in the process.
The doctor said at the time the explanation was inconsistent with that type of injury, but he stuck with the story. The trial brief, dated Oct. 5, 2023, said at the time he was pressured by Taton not to say what happened.
“It wasn’t until 2019 that Garrison finally came forward with the actual cause of the wound,” the trial brief continues. A detective investigating Bowen’s death talked to Taton’s “previous romantic partners,” which included Garrison.
The trial brief tells a full story of what prosecutors allege happened with Bowen’s death, starting with Taton’s call to 911 on June 17, 2019. She stated someone was “‘hurt’ in the stomach and bleeding.” She requested they send an ambulance, not police officers.
Capitol City Fire/Rescue arrived before police, but waited for them to secure the residence, according to the trial brief.
Police found Bowen bleeding on the hall floor and responsive. He told them he had been stabbed with a fillet knife. They found a white-handled fillet knife near the drying rack in the kitchen.
Taton told conflicting accounts of what had happened.
CCFR transported Bowen to Bartlett Regional Hospital where he was again interviewed by police. Bowen said Taton had physically attacked him, striking him in the head with her fists. He placed his hand “on or near her neck” in an effort to hold her off. Then Taton grabbed the knife and stabbed him.
“Bowen said Taton was bipolar and drinking, but there was no other reason for her to be upset,” in the course of the interview at the hospital, according to the trial brief.
Bartlett doctors measured the puncture wound to Bowen’s abdomen at 1.5 inches. They determined he was bleeding internally, had blood in his stomach, and needed surgery or he would die. Bowen was flown to Harborview Hospital in Seattle.
Mabel Pittman, who raised children with Bowen, said he endured numerous surgeries before he passed away.
Prosecutors have 34 witnesses lined up for trial. Evidence obtained during discovery includes 20 bodycam and two holding cell videos, 165 video surveillance files from a neighbor’s camera, and 139 recorded phone calls, among many other things.
One item is a video of Taton cutting herself, the trial brief states.
A phone call and email to Butler, counsel for Taton, were not returned by the end of the business day Thursday.
Jury selection is expected to continue Friday, with opening statements on Monday.
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