Closing statements heard in Nathanial Kangas trial, no verdict reached
After several hours of deliberation, a jury did not reach a verdict in the trial of Nathanial Kangas Friday.
Kangas, 22, is accused of killing two Alaska State Troopers in May 2014 in the interior village of Tanana. Troopers Sgt. Scott Johnson and Gabe Rich were shot to death by Kangas while in the midst of a physical altercation with his father, Arvin Kangas.
On May 1, 2014 the troopers flew into to the village to arrest Arvin Kangas for threatening village public safety officer Mark Hagland. After troopers arrived, the elder Kangas resisted arrest and his son, Nathaniel, opened fire on the troopers.
In Friday’s closing arguments, Fairbanks District Attorney Gregg Olson said Kangas shot troopers intentionally and so quickly they had no time to react. He asked the jury to find Kangas guilty of first and second degree murder for each of the troopers’ deaths.
“He was precise and accurate and he knew what he was doing,” said Olson.
Kangas’ defense attorney, Greg Parvin, agreed that he shot the troopers. However, he argued Kangas did not intentionally kill them. Parvin said the jury should convict Kangas of manslaughter rather than murder, and that Kangas shot the troopers because he was defending his father.
“He reacted impulsively to what he thought was a fatal threat to his father,” said Parvin.
On Friday, the defense played a portion of audio from a recording device on one of the trooper’s uniforms. Kangas can be heard saying “I’m sorry” and “I love you, Dad” during the clips, which were recorded shortly after the troopers were killed. The defense used the clip to demonstrate Kangas’ remorse and lack of intent to kill. During his rebuttal, Olson said Kangas had no excuse to take the troopers’ lives.
“If he killed those state troopers to defend his father, that’s first degree murder. He did it intentionally,” said Olson.
Kangas also faces four charges of tampering with evidence. His father was sentenced to eight years in prison for similar charges in September 2015. After his son allegedly killed the troopers, Arvin took the guns out of the troopers’ holsters to make it appear as though they had drawn firearms during the altercation. Nathanial’s charges also accuse him of manipulating the guns. They also allege he moved marijuana plants and seeds outside the home.
The jury deliberated until 4:30 p.m. Friday. They are set to resume discussion Monday morning.
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