SUV crash trial: Defense claims problems with police recordings

The Alaska Courthouse in Cordova. (Jan. 28, 2020) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

The trial of a Cordova man accused of manslaughter has been delayed until March after the defense alleged police video recordings lacked proper audio.

Jesse James Jones, 50, of Cordova, was charged with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, driving under the influence, and misconduct involving weapons in the fourth degree following an Oct. 8 SUV rollover into Eyak Lake. Jones’s passenger, Andrey Plisko, died following the accident. After being indicted Oct. 15, Jones was released on $10,000 cash bail.

Jones’s trial was initially scheduled to begin Dec. 9. However, at a Dec. 3 pre-trial conference, proceedings were delayed until Tuesday, Jan. 28 so that Jones’s lawyer, Moshe Zorea, could review the case materials, which were substantial. However, at a Jan. 28 pre-trial conference, Zorea requested an additional delay, citing issues with the evidence he had been provided by the state.

Six videos taken by police were furnished to Zorea. However, some of these videos did not have audio, Zorea said.

“The audio portion did not work, and they told me that it didn’t have any audio,” Zorea said, addressing Judge Eric Aarseth. “It does have audio, but, what they sent, these didn’t have the audio.”

Additionally, Zorea had requested Plisko’s medical records, including his autopsy report, but had received nothing, he said. These materials would be necessary before the defense could decide whether or not to go to trial, he said.

Certain parts of Cordova Police Station capture audio but not video, said state attorney Glenn Shidner.

In light of Zorea’s concerns, Aarseth granted a further continuance to allow Zorea to work with the state on resolving issues with the case materials. A pre-trial conference has been scheduled for March 24.

Jones was absent from the relevant portion of the Jan. 28 pre-trial conference. However, this was not wholly unexpected, as heavy snow the previous night made travel around Cordova difficult.