ANCHORAGE - Israel Keyes was an especially captive audience Friday as he learned when he will go on trial for the murder of Samantha Koenig.
Keyes was heavily shackled and guarded, in response to what appeared to be an escape attempt at a hearing on Wednesday.
The 34-year-old Anchorage man is now scheduled to go on trial on March 11, 2013, for killing Koenig, who was 18 when she was kidnapped from a coffee stand on Tudor Road on February 1.
But the date was less a matter of tension in the courtroom than was the issue of Keyes' conduct on Wednesday, when he had to be wrestled down and tased after bolting from the defense table.
Friday’s hearing began with Judge Timothy Burgess laying down the law for Keyes, saying the defendant's presence in the courtroom would be at risk if there were further disruptions.
"First, you may be cited for contempt. Secondly, I may take additional measures to make sure that you don't disrupt proceedings, including further shackling and you may even end up being gagged if you're acting inappropriately. Finally you need to understand that if you can't conform your behavior appropriately you may be removed from the courtroom and you'll have to watch these proceedings from a jail cell. Do you understand?"
"Yes, your honor," Keyes responded.
Burgess also expressed displeasure with spectators at Wednesday’s hearing, at least one who shouted "Kill him!" as Keyes was tackled by guards.
"Now I understand that this is a very difficult situation and that there are some very strong feelings that are held by some in attendance. That being said, this is a court of law and comments that were made, such as those made at the last hearing are inappropriate, and I won't tolerate them, and anybody who makes such comments in the future will be removed from the courtroom."
Burgess also questioned Keyes about how quickly he wanted to go to trial, noting the U.S. Attorney's Office requested a date in 10 months.
Keyes said: "If 10 months is realistic, that's fine with me, your honor. If it's realistic to set it for sooner than 10 months, that's also all right with me, your honor."
Prosecutor Frank Russo, without explaining why, implied that a jury might never hear the case.
"Our 10-month request - if a trial is necessary, quite frankly - that is sort of the longest that the government would be willing to agree to."
There was no argument about the timeline, and Burgess set March 11, 2013, for the trial.
And then Keyes was led from the courtroom, still in restraints.
Keyes was handcuffed for this court appearance with a chain around his waist. And it appeared that his handcuffs were fastened to the counter he was sitting at, although the marshals service wouldn't confirm that.
He was surrounded by four guards throughout the proceedings.