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Grand Jury to Decide Charges Against Graham in Fatal Crash

August 15, 2013|By Mallory Peebles | Channel 2 News

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A grand jury will now decide if second-degree murder charges are appropriate for the man accused of killing two teenage girls in Anchorage last week.

Stacey Allen Graham, arrested after the Aug. 9 crash on Abbott Road that killed 15-year-olds Brooke McPheters and Jordyn Durr, was scheduled for a pre-indictment hearing Thursday. The state prosecution said Graham was not present but his attorney spoke on his behalf, asking for a grand jury to move forward with deciding if Graham would face felony charges of murder in the second degree. 

Second-degree murder and manslaughter are fairly similar, according to Alaska statutes. AS 11.41.110 says second-degree murder occurs when "a person knowingly engages in conduct that results in the death of another person under circumstances which manifests an extreme indifference to the value of human life." In contrast, AS 11.41.120 says the definition of manslaughter is "intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing the death of another person."

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According to criminal defense attorney D. Scott Dattan, the difference is determined by the prosecution, but it's not unusual for a defendant in a DUI fatality to face murder charges. Dattan said he does not know all of the facts of the case, which would determine why state prosecutors chose to charge Graham with the more serious charge.

“It's a matter of degree obviously,” Dattan said. “The facts surrounding the case would determine how the prosecution would choose between reckless conduct and extreme indifference to human life.”

Channel 2 reached out to the district attorney's office to explain why Graham is facing charges of second-degree murder rather than manslaughter, but prosecutors said no one was available to speak directly to the case.

Graham was appointed a public defender following his first appearance in court Tuesday where he said he did not have the means to pay for an attorney himself. His bail is set at $100,000.

Dattan is not representing Graham.

Channel 2's Sarah Evans contributed to this story.

Contact Mallory Peebles

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