Saturday, May 18, 2013
Hiker Testifies He Saw Bonnie Craig With Accused Killer
But Witness Couldn't Identify Kenneth Dion In Court
ANCHORAGE—A hiker who said he saw Bonnie Craig happy and alive on Sept. 28, 1994, testified Wednesday in court during the rape and murder trial that he had actually seen college student with her accused killer hours before the young woman was found dead.
An ex-wife of the defendant, Kenneth Dion, also took the stand Wednesday.
Tammy Aaronson, who has since remarried, testified that in the days leading up to the birth of their daughter on September 3, 1994, Dion was not around.
“But he shows up, takes you to the hospital and is there when you have the baby?” asked Paul Miovas, assistant attorney general for Alaska Department of Law’s cold case unit. “And then he disappears for a couple more weeks after you have the baby?”
“That's correct,” Aaronson said. “He left that day and I didn't see him for about another 5 or 7 days.”
About two weeks later, Craig’s body was found in a shallow pool of water at the foot of a waterfall at McHugh Creek.
Aaronson said she, Dion and another couple had visited that area “definitely after” their daughter had been born, but said she didn’t “recall an exact time.”
Aaronson, who lives in Kenai, said “passing McHugh Creek on my way up here” to Anchorage to testify, “the emotions of this trial,” her meeting with prosecutors “jogged my memory” of that visit to McHugh Creek nearly 17 years ago.
Prosecutors say Dion raped and murdered Craig.
Jessica Hogan, a DNA analyst for the state crime laboratory, also testified Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Now, the fact that there is Mr. Dion's DNA present in and on Bonnie Craig doesn't mean he murdered her,” said Andrew Lambert, Dion’s defense attorney, during cross-examination. “And that doesn't mean he sexually assaulted her.”
“That’s correct,” Hogan said.
But a man who says he saw Craig during a morning hike at McHugh Creek said she looked happy on Sept. 28, 1994.
“Bonnie Craig came bounding down what used to be a set of concrete steps over there (at McHugh Creek) in a very athletic fashion, light on her feet,” said Dr. Arndt von Hippel, a retired surgeon who’s now in his 70s. “I commented to her as she passed—she was looking cheerful—I commented to her, ‘You make that look easy,’ and she sort of gave me a little smile.”
Immediately behind Craig on those stairs, von Hippel said, were two young men and another woman. He described for Troopers the man he said was immediately behind Craig, but said he couldn’t remember what the other man and the other woman looked like.
Until several weeks ago—after the rape and murder trial had begun—when he saw a front-page newspaper photo of Dion and contacted attorneys with both the defense and prosecution.
“May 18 you sent the correspondence and said, 'I am prepared to testify that is the man I saw with Bonnie Craig,” Miovas said.
“Yes, based upon his left look that he was giving, which is the same look I was getting when I was going by them,” von Hippel said.
But when asked to point out that man in court, von Hippel couldn’t.
“Can you see the people sitting here at this table?” Miovas asked, motioning toward the defense table.
“Yes,” von Hippel said.
“Do you see any of the men there that you recognize as one of the men that was with Bonnie Craig?” Miovas said.
“No,” von Hippel said.
The trial resumes Friday.