Defense seeks info on search dogs in Homer murder case

  • Homer resident Lee John Henry listens during an omnibus hearing Monday, Nov. 21, 2016, in Kenai Superior Court in Kenai, Alaska. Henry was indicted Oct. 20 on murder and robbery charges for the 2013 death of Mark Matthews in Homer. (Peninsula Clarion file photo)

Defense attorneys representing a man accused in a 2013 Homer murder are seeking information on search and rescue dogs used in the investigation.

Lee John Henry, 56, faces first- and second-degree murder charges in the killing of 61-year-old Mark Matthews. Matthews’ body was discovered on a trail in Homer in July 2013 with turned-out pockets and wounds to his head.

During an evidentiary hearing held last Wednesday, April 4, at the Kenai Courthouse, public defender Joy Hobart asked Superior Court Judge Charles Huguelet to compel prosecutors to request cooperation from a private dog search-and-rescue organization, whose animals were used in a search for the murder weapon.

Defense attorneys had tried to get the information themselves but were shut down by the organization, Hobart said.

District Attorney Scot Leaders said the prosecution did not intend to use any information gathered from the search.

Hobart argued that because the dogs were used at the request of law enforcement officials, information should be made accessible to defense attorneys.

Leaders contended that it was not the role of the district attorney’s office to compel a private organization to provide information to the defense — but agreed to facilitate contact with the search and rescue organization.

Huguelet told the defense that he would schedule a deposition should the organization not provide the information they requested.

Henry, who was arrested after police got a tip about the case, was indicted in October 2016 on one count of first-degree murder, three counts of second-degree murder, one count of manslaughter and one count of first-degree robbery. He is scheduled to go to trial in May. His next hearing is scheduled for April 16 in Kenai.

Reach Erin Thompson at ethompson@peninsulaclarion.com.

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