SUV crash case: Jones pleads guilty to criminally negligent homicide, DUI

Prosecution dismisses manslaughter charge; sentencing scheduled June 3

The 1986 Chevrolet Blazer involved in the 2019 accident that claimed one life. (Oct. 15, 2019) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

A Cordova man involved in a deadly 2019 SUV crash pled guilty to criminally negligent homicide and DUI at a Monday, March 15 hearing. Charges of manslaughter and of misconduct involving weapons in the fourth degree were dismissed by the prosecution.

As part of a plea deal agreed upon by the prosecution and the defense, Jesse James Jones, 51, of Cordova, would receive a 10-year prison sentence for criminally negligent homicide, with five years suspended. Under the deal, Jones would receive a 365-day prison sentence for DUI, with 362 days suspended, plus a $1,500 fine and five years of probation. Restitution of an as yet undetermined amount would also be required for the family of victim Andrey Plisko, Superior Court Judge Rachel Ahrens said. All seized evidence would be forfeited, as would the blue 1986 Chevrolet Blazer involved in the incident.

Sentencing was pushed forward to June 3 so that a pre-sentence report, or PSR, could be prepared. A PSR gathers information on an offender’s background, allowing a judge to make a more informed sentencing decision. An offender’s family, friends and employer may be interviewed in the process of compiling a PSR.

State attorney Glenn Shidner said that PSRs are sometimes waived in class B felony cases such as this one, due to the time they take to compile, which can contribute to a backlog. However, Ahrens said she did not wish to move forward with sentencing without a PSR or a sentencing memo. Attorney Moshe Zorea, representing Jones, agreed that submitting a PSR would be appropriate.

“There’s a death of somebody involved here,” Ahrens said. “I would like to have as much information as possible before we proceed to sentencing.”

Shidner said he would agree to the submission of a PSR, leaving the proposed plea deal otherwise unaltered. Once a PSR has been submitted, the state will review it and decide whether to file a memo alongside it, Shidner said. The PSR will be due by May 14, Ahrens said.

“That’s my birthday, so that’s a good day,” Zorea quipped.

The Alaska Courthouse in Cordova. (March 15, 2021) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Jones was charged after an Oct. 8, 2019 accident on Power Creek Road in which Jones’s SUV apparently slid across the road while turning a corner, according to court documents. The SUV apparently then overcorrected, entering nearby Eyak Lake backward and rolling over. Jones told officers that he and Plisko, his passenger, had been shooting a shotgun near the end of Power Creek Road and were returning to town when the accident occurred. Plisko was found unresponsive in the upside-down vehicle and was transported to Cordova Community Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Jones was uninjured in the accident.

Jones told officers that he drank two beers while out shooting. Breath alcohol tests indicated Jones had a blood alcohol content of 0.177, more than twice the legal limit. A Mossburg 12-gauge shotgun was retrieved from Jones’s SUV by then Police Chief Mike Hicks.

Jones was indicted Oct. 15, 2019 and later released on $10,000 cash bail. Over the following year, proceedings were repeatedly delayed by technical issues with police video evidence and by the coronavirus pandemic. Jones has maintained steady employment since the time of the accident and has undergone counseling, Zorea said.

Nov. 5, 2020, Jones was arrested after an electronic alcohol monitoring device notified police that alcohol consumption had occurred. Jones was charged with violating conditions of release for a felony. This charge was later dismissed by the prosecution.

Plisko was a former member of the Russian military and a skilled diver, said Plisko’s friend Rick Rose.

“When I heard he ended up in water, I knew he must have been injured because he’s probably among the best in the world at surviving underwater,” Rose wrote.