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Norman Leroy Johnson
 

 

Tuesday, January 27, 1970 Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Page 1

THREE KILLED AT HUNTING CAMP

Lone survivor says driver of snowmobile did shooting

KOTZEBUE (Special)--A tale of tripe murder by a mysterious snowmobile driver has enfolded in the Kotzebue area.

Reports are sketchy in Fairbanks, according to State Troopers, but Alfred G. Francis, News-Miner Correspondent at Kotzebue, had this to say about the murder of three Eskimos:

By ALFRED FRANCIS

"On Sunday while Harold Lie was flying in the vicinity of the sand dunes in the Kobuk River between Kiana and Ambler he saw what he thought was a wolf.

"Upon investigation it proved to be a man in a lathargic stage of exhaustion from walking and running.

"It was the son of Al Johnson, Norman LeRoy Johnson, of Kiana and he told the following story.

"He was sleeping in a tent with three Eskimos the night before (Saturday).  It was a hunting party of Oscar Henry and Fred Jackson of Kiana, and Clarence Arnold of Kotzebue.

"They were moving around making shadows on the tyent when a snow traveller pulled up outside and gunfire poured into the tent killing the three men making the shadows.

"The Johnson lad slid from his bedsack under the side of the tent and ran into the near brush in his underwear.  The gunman entered the tent and gathered up guns and ammo and left the way he had come.

"The onlooker went back into the tent, put on his clothes and left the scene."

Lie, the pilot who spotted the Johnson boy, and reportedly along with a companion, took the lad to Kiana where he was in a state of shock.  Lie works for the FAA in Kotzebue.

The lone survivor of the mass murder, Norman LeRoy Johnson, believed to be in his early twenties, is in Kotzebue today with his father Al Johnson.  The elder Johnson is employed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs as a construction foreman and has been working in the Norvik and Kiana areas for the past month, the News-Miner learned.

Norman Johnson, a Caucasian, had gone to Kotzebue and Kiana for the prupose of hunting with the Eskimos who were killed in their tent last Friday.  He lives in Anchorage.

The younger Johnson was treated for severe frostbite of his hands and feet.

Alaska State Trooper Robert Boatright and Kotzebue city police officer Bill Stevens are at the murder site today.

There is an apparent conflict as to when the murders occurred.  The story from Alfred Francis said the attack was Saturday night, while another reliable source from Kotzebue said that Johnson and the three slain Eskimos left Kiana Jan. 22, Thursday, and they were attacked and killed Jan. 23, which would be Friday, and not Saturday.

The bodies of Henry, 64, Jackson, 43 and Arnold, 39, werre scheduled to be flown to Anchorage today for autopsies.

 

January 29, 1970 Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Page 1

TROOPER INVESTIGATING SHOOTING ON WAY TO QUESTION LONE SURVIVOR

The Alaska State Trooper from Kotzebue who has been investigating the shooting death last week of three Eskimo hunters will pass through Fairbanks late today on his way to Anchorage; there he will continue his investigation by talking to the lone survivor of the night-time gun attack on the hunting tent, 20-year-old Norman LeRoy Johnson.

Trooper Robert Boatright returned to Kotzebue last night, but State Trooper headquarters heere has no further information on the shooting, a spokesman for the northern regional office in Fairbanks said this morning.

Boatright and Kotzebue city police officer Bill Stevens went to Kiana and to the murder scene monday.  Another State Trooper, a Native who speaks the Kiana Eskimo dialect, was dispatched to Kotzebue and Kiana Wednesday.  He will remain in Kiana for several days assisting with the murder investigation.

Dead as a result of a still-unexplained shooting are Oscar Henry, 64, Fred Jackson, 43, and Clarence Arnold, 39.  Arnold was a Kotzebue man and the other two lived in Kiana.  They were shot sometime Jan. 24, troopers believe.

Johnson had flown to the region from Anchorage and was hunting with the three Eskimos when an unknown gunman approached the tent and shot the three men through the tent, he told State Troopers.  Johnson said he slipped out of his sleeping bag and under the side of the tent and then hid in some brush until the assailant went away.

Johnson was picked up along the Kobuk River Sunday in an exhausted state.  He was suffering from frostbite on his hands and feet.

 

January 30, 1970 Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Page 1

JOHNSON CHARGED IN TRIPLE MURDER

Norman LeRoy Johnson, 20, of Anchorage, was arrested at Anchorage late Thursday for the murder of three Eskimo hunters near Kiana.  Johnson's arrest came after State Trooper Robert Boatright of Kotzebue went to Anchorage Thursday to interrogate Johnson about the murders.

Boatright had been in the Kiana area investigating the murders since Monday of this week.

Johnson told authorities in Kotzebue Sunday that he was the lone survivor of the mass murder.  He was picked up from the river ice of the Kobuk River Sunday in a reportedly incoherent and exhausted state.  Kotzebue FAA employee Harold Lie and Dr. Raymond Lang found Johnson.  He was about 35 miles from the hunting camp where he said an unknown assailant had suddenly opened fire on the tent occupied by Johnson and the three Eskimos.

Capt. Donald L. McQueen, Fairbanks commander of the northwest region for Alaska State Troopers, announced Johnson's arrest Friday morning.  McQueen said Johnson was arrested and charged with three counts of first degree murder.  He is presently being held at Anchorage State Jail under $50,000 bond.  Arraignment was scheduled for Friday afternoon.

Lt. William Nix, trooper information officer at Anchorage, said Johnson admitted the slayings during an interview by the trooper's criminal investigation unit and Kotzebue post Trooper Robert Boatwright.  Details of the interview, which was conducted at the Anchorage trooper post, are being withheld, Nix said.  However, he continued, the motive for the shootings was not robbery as was first believed.

Johnson had been in Kotzebue working for his father, a contractor working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Nix said Johnson would probably be returned to Fairbanks for state Grand Jury indictment on the charges since the crime occurred in the Fairbanks Judicial District.

Dead in the mass murder are Oscar Henry, Fred Jackson, and Clarence Arnold.  Their hunting camp was located about 35 miles from Kiana, McQueen said.

The murders occurred sometime Saturday, investigators believe.  The four men reportedly left Kiana on Jan. 22.

 

Wednesday, December 16, 1970 Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Page 3

DEFENSE SEEKS INSANITY RULING IN KILLING OF 3

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A defense attorney says his 21-year-old Anchorage client admits murdering three Eskimo men last January at an isolated hunting camp along the Kobuk River in Northwest Alaska.

The comment came in opening statements in the first-degree murder trial in Anchorage Superior Court of Norman Leroy Johnson, accused of killing Oscar Henry, 64, Freddie Jackson, 45, and Clarence Arnold, 45.

The slayings took place near Kiana, a village of 253 persons about 75 miles west of Kotzebue on the Kobuk River.

Johnson's attorney, William Fuld of Anchorage, told the court Monday that fear his three hunting companions meant him harm, distress at being alone in the arctic among people speaking a strange language and the sight of blood on his first hunt prompted Johnson to kill the three men.

The three victims were Eskimos from Kiana who took Johnson on a caribou-hunting trip the day before the shootings.  Arnold and Henry were found shot to death inside their tent.  Johnson's body was found outside the tent.

The trial was moved to Anchorage from Nome on a change of venue.

Johnson's attorney told Judge C. J. Occhipinti that the young man should be found innocent by reason of insanity.  However, Nome District Attorney William Garrison contended the shootings were done with premeditation and malice, seeking a first-degree murder conviction.

In his opening statements at the non-jury trial, Garrison said Johnson had fallen off a snowmobile sled during the hunt.  He contended Johnson had a motive for the humiliation he suffered as a refult of the fall.

 

Saturday, March 12, 1971 Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Page 6 or 8

JOHNSON GETS LIFE SENTENCE

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A sentence of life imprisonment was handed down Friday to Norman Leroy Johnson, convicted last January in the 1970 slayings of three Eskimo hunting companions.

Superior Court Judge C. J. Occhipinti handed down the ruling, brushing aside Johnson's plea of criminal insanity.

Occhipinti, however, provided that psychiatric treatment be provided for Johnson while he is in custody.  The judge said this treatment was suggested by the defendant's father, Alvin E. Johnson.

The killings occurred Jan. 24, 1970, at a hunting camp on the Kobuk River near the village of Kiana some 75 miles east of Kotzebue.  The three victims were Oscar Henry, 64, Freddie Jackson, 45 and Clarence Arnold, also 45.

Testimony during the trial indicated Johnson was on his first hunting trip for caribou and the strange environment as well as the strange language of the Eskimos prompted the killings.

"We feel," said Kiana Trading Post owner Lorenz Schuerch, speaking for the village of 235 persons, "there shouldn't be too much leniency shown.  There's nothing like this that's ever happened on the whole Kobuk River."

William Garrison, district attorney at Nome who prosecuted the case, had recommended a sentence of 102 years, or 34 years for each of the three counts.  State law provides a sentence of 15 years to life for a conviction of second-degree murder.

"If I don't get too much time I feel I can still make something of myself," said Johnson, who earned a high school diploma while in prison before and during his trial.

When asked how he felt about the killings, Johnson said, "To me it's still unbelievable."

The sentence provides for probation when the parole board finds Johnson no longer a threat to society.  Judge Occhipinti remarked at one point in today's proceedings he found the penology system in Alaska "terrible."

 

June 15, 1973

NORMAN LEROY JOHNSON v. STATE ALASKA

 

SUPREME COURT OF ALASKA

 


June 15, 1973

NORMAN LEROY JOHNSON, APPELLANT,
v.
STATE OF ALASKA, APPELLEE.

Before Rabinowitz, C.j., and Connor, Erwin and Boochever, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rabinowitz

 

RABINOWITZ, Chief Justice.

Norman LeRoy Johnson was convicted of three counts of second degree murder following a non-jury trial in superior court. The principal contentions raised in this appeal concern the doctrine of diminished capacity and burden of proof as it relates to the defense of insanity.

The relevant facts and pertinent expert testimony relating to the defense of insanity will be set forth in some detail. Appellant Norman Johnson moved to Alaska in 1969 with his parents. His father was employed by the Alaska State Housing Authority and during January of 1970, was working in Kiana while Norman was attending Anchorage Community College. Thinking that his son would enjoy a trip into Alaska's interior, Mr. Johnson invited Norman, who was then 19 years old, to spend his semester break vacation with him in Kiana. After Norman had been in Kiana for a few days, his father arranged for him to go on a caribou hunt. It was planned that Norman would accompany Freddy Jackson, a Native and a friend of Norman's father, to a hunting camp on the Kobuk River, about 70 miles from Kiana, where they would join two other Natives, Clarence Arnold and Oscar Henry. Norman and Freddy Jackson left Kiana by snowmobile. They reached camp that evening, had dinner with Arnold and Henry, and then went to bed.

The following morning they began to hunt. Norman was riding in a sled behind Jackson's snowmobile. During the hunt, Norman was thrown from the sled and left behind by the hunters. When he caught up with them eventually by foot, he found that they had finished with their hunting and were butchering the caribou they had killed. At this time Norman watched Arnold and Henry cleaning and butchering a female caribou that apparently had an unborn calf in its womb. He later told Dr. Ure, one of the examining defense psychiatrists

that . . . this baby never had a chance, you see, and he thought that Freddy . . . was a little callous in not too caring and he had the same feeling of feeling sick to his stomach.

After this episode, Norman accompanied Jackson, Arnold and Henry back to the camp.

Upon returning the men prepared dinner. During these preparations, another Native, Clarence Wood, stopped by the campsite. He stayed for about an hour, had dinner, and then departed on his way back to Ambler at about 7 p.m. Wood testified through an interpreter that while he was there Norman lay on his bed, all huddled up, that he hardly said anything, but would answer when spoken to. Other than that, he did not notice anything unusual about Norman.

Sometime after Wood left the campsite, Jackson, Arnold, and Henry began making preparations for bed. Norman later told the state troopers that:

I got up to go to the bathroom and I went outside and I went and I got my rifle and I just started firing into the tent.

The prosecution's evidence showed that the bullets were fired from outside the tent, and that Jackson, Arnold and Henry were inside the tent during the shooting. At one point, Jackson attempted to come out of the front of the tent and was shot by Johnson as he was coming out. All three men had numerous bullet wounds. 

Following the shooting, Johnson went back inside the tent and put on some more clothing. After failing to start one of the snow machines, he then started out on foot for Kiana, following a snowmobile trail leading up the Kobuk River.

The next day two hunters were flying in a small airplane in the Kobuk River area searching for wolves. They noticed a dark object by the river and when they flew down close to the ground, they realized it was a man. They landed the plane, and the man told them he was Norman Johnson, was from Kiana, and that three men were dead in the camp down the river. 

Trooper Boatright of the Alaska State Troopers testified that he talked to Norman briefly on the day he was taken back to Kiana. He stated Norman was

still under shock. He was cold, he was shivering, and all he could indicate to me at that time was that his name was Norman Johnson and that he had been up at a camp where there had been a shooting and he didn't recall too much more of what happened.

The following day Boatright talked to Norman again. At this time Boatright found Norman to be "calm and able to converse without any trouble." During this interview, Norman told Boatright an exculpatory tale concerning the events of his hunting trip with Jackson, Henry and Arnold.  Two days later Norman was taken to trooper headquarters for another interview. In the course of this interview, Norman confessed to having committed the shootings at the camp. 

Norman Johnson's defense at trial was based on showing that at the time of the slayings he was suffering from a mental disease or defect such that he was not responsible for his actions. In this regard, Dr. J. Ray Langdon testified that he had examined Norman and had reviewed the records of the investigation, some of Norman's previous medical history, as well as results of tests performed by a clinical psychologist. Dr. Langdon found that Norman was not at the time of the examination overtly psychotic or irrational, but that the tests and history showed evidence of severe mental illness, namely, a latent schizophrenic process which, if it became an overt psychosis, would most likely be of a paranoid or persecutoid type.

Dr. Langdon stated that the circumstances surrounding the incident as related to him by Norman could have accounted for a "decompensation" of the schizophrenic process resulting in an overt but brief psychotic episode. He also stated it was possible that because Norman was in a totally unfamiliar situation, in the extremely cold Arctic wilderness, with three Eskimos, his mental illness might have become overt. The doctor also testified that the emotion that would accompany the type of acute decompensation that Norman went through would be "primarily a panic." Finally, Dr. Langdon testified that in his opinion

I feel probably knew the nature and quality of actions but that he did not believe it was criminal or wrongful at the time.

Dr. Barbara Ure, a psychiatrist, also testified in Norman's behalf. On the basis of extensive interviews, Dr. Ure found evidence that Norman was a fetishist. Her opinion as to why Norman had shot and killed his three hunting companions was as follows:

the ego of the fetishist is what is involved in this killing, . . . is he identified with the baby and the mother the lost - compromised his own body image which was already fairly well compromised, that is, he was insecure as to who he was, having lost contact with his culture, with his geography, he was pretty much displaced . . .

these men would become the enemy, you see, and he - they - he could be killed by them just like this caribou was and this baby caribou . . . really it's the baby that never had a chance because this is Norman in a certain sense . . . who really never had a chance . . . . did not get up to urinate, he did have an erection, not a sexual sort of thing but in a sense of asserting his identity, preserving his - his survival and that it was totally incongruous to even consider the possibility of masturbating but then there's one other point that is when a fetishist cannot deny his identification with his mother he generally does break down, you see, and so this is what I think did happen and that I do believe he did see the tent . . . and that his survival was threatened and that he doesn't know what he was doing and that he shot in self defense.

Finally, Dr. Ure testified in response to an inquiry as to whether Norman knew the nature and quality of his act when he did the shooting:

For the moment he didn't realize what he was doing. He knows that you're not supposed to shoot people . . . but for the moment this took a second place because he had to save himself from an - a danger which suddenly became very real. This danger was inside but he thought it was outside.

She also stated that she believed his act was the product of mental disease.

Dr. John Rollins testified for the state. He had examined Norman pursuant to court order. In his opinion, Norman showed no signs of mental disease, disorder or defect that would preclude him from being able to conform to the law. He further testified that he believed Norman had the capacity to deliberate about the acts he was committing, particularly because of his ability to recall details of the events.

Dr. Walter Rapaport testified for the state on rebuttal. Rapaport had not examined Norman. He was permitted, over defense objection, to review a transcript of the testimony of Drs. Langdon and Ure, as well as their reports prior to testifying, Rapaport found no evidence of mental illness in Norman Johnson. He stated he believed Johnson was capable of premeditation, malice aforethought, and that Johnson had the mental capacity to appreciate the nature and quality of his acts as well as their wrongfulness. His opinion was based on the fact that Norman remembered a good deal about the episode, the evidence of flight and concealment, and the absence generally of any symptoms of major mental illness. He stated that fetishism is not a symptom characteristic of any particular illness, although it may be associated with mental illness. Regarding this case, he stated:

[evidence of fetishism] in nowise would alter my opinion as to his mental capacity relative to issues which I have given an opinion.

The superior court applied the American Law Institute Model Penal Code test for criminal insanity.  Although it placed the burden of proof as to the insanity upon appellant, more particularly, Johnson was required to overcome the presumption of sanity by a preponderance of the evidence. In its findings regarding Johnson's state of mind, the trial court stated in part:

Applying the [A.L.I.] rule to the testimony, primarily of the psychiatrists and by further removing the speculative aspects of their testimony or their subjective presumptions, I find that, using the ALI test, the Defendant does not meet the test and is, therefore, responsible for his criminal conduct.

His substantial recall of the sequence of events during the shooting, attempts to cover his actions and withholding details attempting to avoid responsibility also all tend to show a substantial capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct, and an attempt to conform his conduct to the requirements of law. I recognize that some testimony exists that Defendant may not have been aware of what he was doing, but there is no testimony that any such lapse was, except by speculation and conjecture, due to any substantial mental and disease or defect. I thus find that the Defendant has failed to carry the burden by a preponderance of the evidence that his actions were caused by mental illness.

The superior court then went on to determine the appropriate degree of homicide stating:

There is testimony that Defendant is below average mentally and further that his conduct is not entirely normal, although not mentally ill as defined by the test used. Defendant suffers from a fetishistic disorder, and there is question concerning his development towards maturity. Further, Defendant probably underwent some stresses due to the cold; remoteness of the area where the incident took place; the foreign language used around him and perhaps even the inability of Defendant to keep up with the experienced hunters. I merely review this to assist in determining the ability of the Defendant to premeditate, and to experience malice aforethought. The stresses, individually, are not sufficient to be seriously considered. Collectively, however, it could with any provocation such as anger, fear, jealously, etc., cause some irrational or impassioned behavior. The description of the hunting scene, the testimony of the psychiatrists highlighting feelings of persecution and the evidence in general fails to show any premeditation.

The superior court subsequently determined that Johnson should receive three concurrent terms of life imprisonment "with the understanding that he obtain psychiatric treatment and that the parole board release him when they are convinced that he is no longer a danger to society and he has received his treatment." The judgment of conviction entered by the superior court contained a reference to Norman Johnson's need for psychiatric care. The judgment omitted any reference to the fact that Johnson was to be released when the parole board was convinced that he is no longer a danger to society. Johnson has appealed from the trial court's judgment of conviction and the sentences which were imposed.

Johnson's first specification of error is to the effect that the trial court erred in failing to grant his motion for judgment of acquittal made at the close of the prosecution's case as to all counts of first and second degree murders. Johnson argues that even if the trial court properly found that he was not suffering from a mental disease such that he should be completely absolved of criminal responsibility, the court should have applied the doctrine of diminished capacity. Under that doctrine, Johnson contends that since the prosecution's evidence failed to show malice, an essential element of both first and second degree murders, he was erroneously convicted of three counts of second degree murder.

The state argues that there was sufficient evidence to support a finding that Johnson acted out of malice and was guilty of homicide in the second degree. Viewing the evidence in the most favorable light, the state asserts that the following facts show the existence of malice and purpose to kill:

(1) Johnson had to leave the tent to get to the rifles; (2) the first shots were fired from his own rifle, indicating selection; (3) to use his rifle it was first necessary for Johnson to remove it from its case; (4) Johnson had to go to where the rifles were stored; (5) he fired at least 10 shots from at least two rifles; (6) the shots showed aim, as Judged by the terrible destruction of life, by the patterns of holes in the tent and in the victims, and by the shot which struck Freddy Jackson as he emerged wounded from the tent; (7) finally, the pattern of shots showed that Johnson changed his position.

The state further argues that this court should not adopt the doctrine of diminished capacity since it would impose an added burden on the prosecution in proving intent beyond a reasonable doubt, particularly because this defense, unlike a defense of insanity, can be brought up without prior notice to the state.  The state also argues that the court, in fact, applied the doctrine of diminished capacity, and that there was sufficient evidence to support the trial court's Conclusions that Johnson was guilty of second degree homicides.

From the record, it is apparent that the trial court did apply a diminished capacity doctrine in determining that Norman Johnson was not guilty of first degree murders. The diminished capacity doctrine is based on the theory that while an accused may not have been suffering from a mental disease or defect at the time of his offense, sufficient to absolve him totally of criminal responsibility, the accused's mental capacity may have been diminished by intoxication, trauma, or mental disease to such an extent that he did not possess a specific mental state or intent essential to the particular offense. In the case at bar, the trial court found that "the evidence in general fails to show any premeditation," and also mentioned the stresses that were bearing upon Johnson at the time of the shooting. Although the court did not state explicitly how these stresses worked to negate premeditation, it did appear to take these matters into account.

Nevertheless, Johnson argues that a reasonable man necessarily must have had a reasonable doubt as to whether he acted with malice aforethought, and therefore he could not have been found guilty of murder in the second degree. 

Criterion for review of sufficiency questions in criminal cases has been stated by this court in the following manner:

In determining the issue raised by such a challenge, the evidence and the inferences to be drawn therefrom are to be viewed in a light most favorable to the state. The question, then, is whether the finding of guilt is supported by substantial evidence, that is, such relevant evidence which is adequate to support a Conclusion by a reasonable mind that there was no reasonable doubt as to appellant's guilt. 

Since malice was an essential element of second degree murder, that element should have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and the narrow question on appeal in this case is whether the trial court's finding that there was malice is supported by substantial evidence that is "adequate to support a Conclusion . . . that there was no reasonable doubt" as to that element.

In Gray v. State, 463 P.2d 897, 901 (Alaska 1970), we discussed the element of malice in homicide:

Murder, at common law, was defined as the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought, either express or implied. Express malice could be found in the deliberate intention of the defendant to take the life of the deceased unlawfully, while implied malice could be found either where the evidence showed circumstances indicating that . . . he knowingly did an act which might result in death or grievous bodily harm, or where defendant killed another in the course of perpetrating a felony.

Based on our review of the record, we hold that the prosecution's evidence showed that Norman Johnson acted with malice. The prosecution's evidence disclosed that Johnson walked out of the tent, went over to where the hunters' guns were kept, picked up his gun, and began firing into the tent knowing his three companions were inside. From these acts it may reasonably be inferred that he knew death would result from firing into the tent. Although the prosecution did not show any particular reasons why Johnson may have intended to kill the three men, the fact that he aimed and fired in their direction is enough to infer malice.

The defense countered the implication of malice by psychiatric testimony that Johnson was suffering from a major mental illness, and that at the time he shot his companions, he believed the act was necessary to save his own life. In this regard, the testimony of Drs. Rollins and Rapaport was in direct conflict with the testimony of Drs. Ure and Langdon. Rollins and Rapaport both failed to find any evidence of a major mental illness and stated that Johnson had the capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his acts. Although they did not specifically testify that Johnson was not acting under a delusion that his life was in danger, that was the import of their testimony and a fair inference to be drawn therefrom. Since the trial court, as the trier of fact, was free to resolve this conflict in testimony by rejecting the theories of the defense psychiatrists, we find there was "substantial evidence" that Johnson acted with malice. We therefore hold that the trial court did not err in denying Johnson's motion for judgment of acquittal as to all counts of second degree murder.

Appellant has also specified as error the trial court's ruling which permitted Dr. Rapaport, the prosecution's expert rebuttal witness, to testify after he had read the testimony of Drs. Ure and Langdon, expert defense witnesses. Johnson asserts this ruling was erroneous because the court had, under our rules of procedure, at the beginning of the trial excluded witnesses from being present in the courtroom while other witnesses gave testimony. 

In Dickens v. State, 398 P.2d 1008 (Alaska 1965), we held that the exclusion of witnesses is within the trial court's discretion. Dr. Rapaport stated that his opinion was not influenced in any way by the Conclusions of Drs. Ure and Langdon, but that he utilized their testimony primarily to gain an understanding of the factual data on which they based their opinions and Conclusions. Given the circumstance that Dr. Rapaport used only the factual data contained in the testimony of Drs. Ure and Langdon, we hold that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in permitting Dr. Rapaport to testify, despite its previous order excluding witnesses not at the time under examination. 

Another point raised is Johnson's contention that the trial court's imposition of three concurrent life sentences for three counts of murder in the second degree was excessive. Under the sentencing objectives set forth in State v. Chaney, 477 P.2d 441 (Alaska 1970), the trial court is to consider several factors: rehabilitation, protection of society, deterrence of the offender, deterrence of other members of the community, and reaffirmation of societal norms. Our review of the record convinces us that the trial court considered these criteria. Under the "clearly mistaken." standard of review of Chaney and Nicholas v. State, 477 P.2d 447, 449 (Alaska 1970),  we cannot say that the concurrent sentences imposed in this case were excessive. 

Johnson's final point is that the trial court erred in placing the burden of proof as to insanity upon him. The state argues that the better rule requires that the accused rebut the presumption of sanity by a preponderance of the evidence. The state further contends that any other rule would place an impossible burden upon the state in practical terms.

In its opinion, the trial court stated that as to the burden of proof when sanity is made an issue, I must agree with the State's position . . . it is my opinion that the presumption of sanity and responsibility must be strongly adhered to subject to the normal rebuttal ability to overcome this presumption by a preponderance of the evidence.

Since the judgment and commitment was entered in this case, Alaska's legislature enacted the following statute treating the subject of mental disease or defect and criminal responsibility:

Reliance on mental disease or defect as excluding responsibility is an affirmative defense. The burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt does not require the prosecution to disprove an affirmative defense unless and until there is evidence supporting the defense. The requirement of evidence supporting the affirmative defense is not satisfied solely by evidence of an abnormality which is manifested only by repeated criminal or otherwise antisocial conduct. 

 

 

 



 


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