Trial moved for man charged in Alaska doctor’s death
KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — The trial of a Washington state man charged in the death of an Alaska surgeon will be held in Juneau.
Superior Court Judge Trevor Stephens this week granted the motion by attorneys for Jordan Joplin to move the trial from Ketchikan, the Ketchikan Daily News reported Wednesday. The judge cited media coverage of the case and the size Ketchikan, with a population of about 8,000, as unlikely to produce an impartial jury.
Joplin, 33, is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree theft connected to the March 2017 death of 58-year-old Dr. Eric Garcia.
Ketchikan police found Garcia dead at his home after Joplin, his friend, had requested a welfare check on him, according to court documents. Police determined a number of items were missing, tracking hundreds of thousands of dollars of gold, coins, watches and liquor shipped from Alaska to Joplin’s residence in Maple Valley, Washington.
Multiple bank transfers totaling about $40,000 from Garcia’s accounts to accounts connected to Joplin were also discovered, police said.
Former Deputy Police Chief Josh Dossett said earlier this year that investigators found no obvious signs of foul play and that the initial autopsy of Garcia revealed no obvious cause of death.
A Ketchikan grand jury indicted Joplin on the additional charge of first-degree murder in July.
Katrina Larsen, Joplin’s attorney, confirmed this week that Garcia’s cause of death was from morphine overdose.
The change of venue allows Joplin to receive a fair trial away from media attention in Ketchikan, Larsen said.
“Anyone accused of a crime has to have the opportunity to have their case decided by an impartial jury, and this was just such a unique case in the circumstances,” Larsen said.
Ketchikan District Attorney Timothy McGillicuddy declined to comment on the change of venue ruling.
The trial is scheduled to begin in Ketchikan in early November.
Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.ketchikandailynews.com