Justice for the family of Jorge Rea-Villa
On Tuesday, May 29, a jury quickly returned a guilty verdict in the death of an Anchorage tattoo artist nearly two years ago.
Trayvon Morrissette was convicted of first- and second-degree murder and first-degree burglary after jurors deliberated just a few hours.
For Jorge Rea-Villa's family, they finally had the justice they were seeking.
"I believed in the beginning that he was guilty, 100 percent," Rea-Villa's father Jorge Rea said. "I didn't have any doubt, based on the information we got in the beginning-- and the evidence."
Rea thanked his lawyers for sticking to the process that lasted nearly 23 months.
"I told them I would be waiting patiently for the outcome," Rea said. "I believe in justice and justice is real. I'm so thankful for this outcome-- we fought so hard for this. I fought for my son-- he's no longer here and it is a big loss for our family."
Rea, a taxi cab driver in Anchorage, says he started with a lot of confidence in the case but started to lose that confidence once the pretrial started.
"Based on the defense and the arguments," Rea said, "it made me doubt it a little bit. But, I also believed in the District Attorney and the people behind this case. Once again, I believe in justice, we are happy, but at the same time, sad."
Morrissette, now 34, admitted in court last week to firing the shot that took Jorge Rea-Villa’s life in the July 4, 2016, confrontation. He testified in his own defense that he had been using drugs and didn’t remember why he pulled the trigger.
Morrissette said he had shifted from cocaine to methamphetamine shortly before the shooting. A brief confrontation with Rea-Villa in a bathroom at a Lore Road home, he said, led to the shooting.
“I remember pulling out the gun, and I remember shooting him,” Morrissette said.
Morrissette's sentencing was set for October 5. First-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 99 years in prison in Alaska.
Upon hearing the jury's verdict, a few tears streamed down Morrissette's face. More tears and cries came from the row right behind Morrissette—the row in the courtroom that occupied members of Jorge Rea-Villa's family. Jorge's father was not in the courtroom to hear the verdict.
"This was so hard," Rea said. "I feel bad for him (Morrissette); this is the end of this whole thing and the start of what's next."
Jorge Rea gave a lot of credit to Michelle Evans from Victims for Justice for keeping him pushing through the process.
"We need to work together to stop this crime," Rea said. "I work as a taxi driver and see it all the time. Drugs are a real big problem. There are others out there who don't have justice yet. If we don't speak out, crime will continue and destroy more families."
Editor's note: An initial version of this story incorrectly listed Jorge Rea-Villa's hyphenated surnames.
Questions or comments about this story? Email reporter Scott Gross.
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