Deadly Midtown stabbing caught on video, charges say
Two of three defendants charged in the fatal Midtown Anchorage stabbing of a man earlier this week, including the suspect accused of wielding the murder weapon, appeared in court Saturday.
Bert Allen Jones Jr., 32, and 39-year-old Ralph Jim were arraigned in Anchorage court Saturday morning.
Jones and Jim, along with 27-year-old Shalom Gilmore who was arraigned Friday, are defendants in the Wednesday death of 28-year-old Philip Cleveland. All three are charged with second-degree murder, with Jones and Gilmore also charged with first-degree murder.
APD Detective David Cordie wrote in a criminal complaint against Jones and Jim that officers initially responded to a report of a man with a cut throat on the 200 block of East Northern Lights Boulevard just before 11 p.m. Wednesday. When officers found Cleveland, he appeared to have stabbing and slashing wounds to his neck and face, as well as broken bones in his face; an autopsy found that he had “defensive” wounds on his hands and arms.
A witness who was in a group of people at the scene told police that men he knew as “Grim” and “Juneau,” later identified by police as Jones and Jim, had been in the area. Shortly after the stabbing, Cordie wrote, Jones told the witness he had stabbed someone; Jim had also been at the scene.
Another witness, a friend of Cleveland’s, told police that Jones and a group of other people had been “partying” near the Midtown Walmart on A Street that night, then went to the stabbing scene near the old Blockbuster Video building on Northern Lights. When Cleveland showed up, however, things went “haywire.”
“The witness described that two men were beating Cleveland and he tried to stop them,” Cordie wrote. “He described that they were kicking him in the head and then Grim took out a knife and stabbed Cleveland in the neck. The witness reported that Grim stabbed (Cleveland) two to three times as Cleveland was laying on the ground.”
Police also obtained a high-definition surveillance video of the stabbing, in which Cleveland was seen joining a group of five to seven people who had apparently been drinking alcohol from bottles. No physical provocation on his part was seen in the video, and Cleveland was carrying only what appeared to be a bag of chips he was eating.
“After several minutes, one of the individuals (believed to be Jones) strikes Cleveland with a fist in the face and head,” Cordie wrote. “Cleveland is immediately knocked to the ground. Cleveland never gets up off the ground after the initial blow.”
The video, Cordie wrote, showed Jones and Jim kicking and punching Cleveland on the ground as he tried to defend himself, all while being watched by a man sitting nearby wearing a white jacket marked with a marijuana plant. That man, whom police believe was Gilmore, didn’t intervene during the assault.
“On at least one occasion, Jones appears to go over to the man in the marijuana jacket and ‘fist bumps’ the man,” Cordie wrote. “Another time, Jones goes over to the man in the marijuana jacket and receives what appears to be a knife from the man. Jones then goes over to Cleveland and stabs Cleveland in the face, neck or head at least three times while Cleveland is trying to block the knife with his hands and arms.”
Police took Jim and Gilmore into custody later that evening, Cordie wrote, wearing shoes and a marijuana jacket respectively similar to clothes seen in the video. Jim denied being at the scene after he was shown stills from the video. He had abrasions to his right hand’s knuckles, which he said he received when he got mad at his girlfriend and he “punched something.”
Jones was taken into custody Friday on the Seward Highway, according to Cordie. The charging document did not mention any response from him to evidence in the case.
Both Jones and Jim have extensive Alaska criminal histories, according to charging documents, including multiple convictions for assault and DUI.
Jones’ bail was initially set at $250,000, and Jim’s at $50,000. Both men also require court-approved third-party custodians for their release. Gilmore’s bail was set at $1 million Friday, after Cleveland’s family asked a judge to hold him without bail.