Juneau, Alaska (KINY) David Evenson pled guilty to criminal negligent homicide in the death of Aaron Monette, 56.
Prosecutor Amy Paige said it was a number of factors considered in reaching an agreement in the case. "I know we took a careful look at similar cases to determine how courts had sentenced defendants. Every case like this turns on its own facts."
"The seriousness of the defense and the impacts on his family were weighed," she added.
Mr. Evenson had several prior convictions. Some were related to alcohol. She said one of the goals in a sentence is rehabilitation of the defendant.
Paige noted there was a six year period where Mr. Evenson did not commit crimes, "He may have stopped drinking. It was his intention to seek treatment at the time of this defense. Perhaps this was the motivating incident that will allow him to do that."
Paige said the victim had two sons who remain confused about what happened to their father.
"I have spoken to the victims. They were devastated at the loss of their father. They wanted Mr. Evenson held responsible for their fathers death and they are satisfied. They are confused about probation and parole and the time they serve. One of the sentencing goals is rehabilitation. We cant' just incarcerate people indefinitely where the facts of the case don't justify that."
Paige said the video was silent. She said Evenson and the victim exchanged words and that the defendant did pursue the victim to some extent.
"The outcome was not expected by Mr. Evenson. There must be community condemnation for an incident like this. We have to take this incident seriously."
Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg said one fact he wanted more details on was whether Mr. Evenson kicked the victim while he laid on the floor. There were discrepancies from the eye witnesses on that allegation.
"Looking at the video would not give us a conclusive image of Mr. Evenson's kicking Mr. Monette in the face," the Judge added.
Defense Attorney Eric Hedland said the agreement on sentence was a compromise. He said a person died and his client was somewhat involved. "In my opinion I don't think a jury should convict somebody with these facts. I asked the doctors was the cause of death the punch to the head or the preexisting aneurysm. They agree the blunt force of the left fist striking Mr. Monette was not the cause of death, it was the pre-existing aneurysm."
"But for the aneuryism, Mr. Monette would not have died,' he added. He suggested an elevated blood pressure could have caused the aneurysm to burst.
Hedland compared this incident to a heart attack that could occur over neighbors arguing over lawn maintenance
He said the video seemed to show that Mr. Monette knew there was going to be a fight.
"It is unrefuted that Mr. Monette knows Mr. Evenson is following him. He throws his back pack down and raises his hands. He is hit once and falls to the ground. "
He noted that his client had several prior assault convictions and a propensity for getting in trouble. "That was 25 years ago and he's still getting into trouble at his age, 52."
He went on to state that the streets are a different world. He said people who live on the streets and drink, have a different code of conduct. "Mr. Evenson became proficient in using his hands to fight. People can get hurt because he is probably pretty good at it. Mr. Monette picked a fight with somebody he shouldn't have."
He said Mr. Evenson is sincere and wants to get help for his alcohol dependence. He has requested residential treatment for his addiction.
"This never should have happened it was a petty dispute at a bus stop. I think he will sink or swim in a relatively short period of time. This was two people getting into a fight over nonsense."
He said Evenson had no idea a punch to the face would cause the man's death.
Evenson addressed the court and said he felt really bad that Mr. Monette died. "I absolutely never intended for that to occur. It was a peculiar situation at best. I have to take responsibility for me."
Evenson added he wanted to say he was sorry but also not the cause of the death. "The man had a medical condition beyond the aneurysm. All things kind of happen for a reason. Thought this gentleman died, I want to take advantage and make sure something like this doesn't happen again."
Evenson said he wanted to nip his alcohol and problem in the bud. "If alcohol wasn't involved this would not have taken place."
He said he tried to enter a drug rehabilitation program in Anchorage shortly before this incident but there were no beds available. "I'm doing something about this, I attend Alcoholic Anonymous, bible study, staying out of trouble, I think it is time to face the demons and get on a better track."
Judge Pallenberg said there is reason to think that Mr. Evenson has decided to make changes. "If you look at the criminal history. A list on paper doesn't tell you what is in someone's heart. There were pretty frequent criminal convictions, boom, boom, boom. It all stopped in 2011. For six years nothing happened."
Pallenberg said something good had to be happening in those six years. "Maybe he grew up. People grow up at different ages."
He said he went five years without committing a crime from 2003-2008. "This is not somebody with uninterrupted crime."
He said fights occur in every town and can often lead to minor injury or minor charges. "The conduct were talking about is no different. One guy punched another guy and words were exchanged. We are here because a guy died, it was tragic. I know it was not your intention and it was sort of a freak thing."
He compared it to a DUI where drivers 99 percent of the time make it home, and don't hurt anyone. "Other times something really terrible happens. It is the luck of the draw. If you kill someone it is not something you meant to have happen, but the conduct is exactly the same."
He said the law looks at the result. "If you hadn't punched Mr. Monette it is possible that aneurysm could have busted two days later as he ran to a bus."
He said the punch didn't cause the death and could have been the high blood pressure and the adrenaline from the fight.
"Its a reasonable compromise. It is difficult to determine what a jury would have done had this case gone to trial. There is some percentage chance of any outcome if this went to trial. One of the potential outcomes is a conviction for a higher level of homicide," he added.
Pallenberg said there was no legal justification for the punch.
Judge Pallenberg accepted the agreement that called for a guilty plea, a six year prison sentence, and 10 years probation. As part of the plea, three years of the prison sentence was suspended. A charge of manslaughter was dismissed.
Evenson could serve less time on probation with good behavior. He won't be allowed to consume alcohol, enter a bar, possess firearms or illegal drugs or marijuana.
Surveillance video caught the assault in the downtown transit center. Monette had a previous brain aneurysm that ruptured during the assault.