A Homer man charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of a man killed in a truck crash will turn himself over to authorities. Homer Police Chief Mark Robl said Tyler Cordes, 20, now in Las Vegas, also has hired a lawyer.
“We have located him and know where he’s (Cordes) at,” Robl said on Tuesday. “… We’re arranging for U.S. Marshals to arrange his transport.”
A Kenai Grand Jury last Wednesday, Sept. 14, indicted Cordes in the death of Drew Brown, a passenger killed last year in a truck crash. Cordes faces charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter, first-degree assault, third-degree assault, driving under the influence, reckless driving and reckless endangerment. The indictment alleges that Cordes drove drunk and recklessly, and, under the second-degree murder charge, “knowingly engaged in conduct that resulted in the death of Drew Brown under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to the value of human life.”
According to the indictment and a press release, Cordes drove a GMC pickup truck that lost control on the Sterling Highway near Crittenden drive on Dec. 21, 2021. Homer Police said the truck left the road and hit a power pole. The collision threw Drew Brown, 25, out of the truck, killing him. Police said roads were slippery that night.
“We can suspect excessive speeds involved based on a couple of things,” Robl said. “Number one is the damage to the vehicle. … It went off the road, rolled over and had a bunch of damage. That doesn’t happen at normal winter driving speeds.”
Three other people also were in the truck: two men then 19 and a woman then 19. None of them suffered life-threatening injuries, but the first-degree assault charge alleges the woman suffered serious physical injuries, and medics took her and another man to South Peninsula Hospital. Police did not identify Cordes as the driver until last week.
Cordes has not yet been arraigned on the charges. Police said Cordes left Homer shortly after the crash. In a press release last week, police had asked anyone with information on Cordes’ whereabouts to contact them. The press release also sent a direct message to Cordes.
“Mr. Cordes, when you see this, (it’s) time to make a tough phone call to us,” the press release said.
Robl said part of the delay in charging the case had to do with their focus on the abduction of Anesha “Duffy” Murnane, a Homer woman who went missing in October 2019. After a yearslong investigation, police in May charged a former Homer man with the kidnapping and murder of Murnane. Because police suspected a murderer might be at large in the Murnane case, they considered that a greater threat to the community.
“It’s a big case,” Robl said of the truck crash and Cordes charges. “It took awhile to work the case. We had some reluctance on the parties involved to come forward and make candid statements. We finally got around that.”
Robl thanked those witnesses for their cooperation.
“It took awhile to bring this case to justice,” Robl said. “…We want to send out the message that people are held accountable for their actions while they’re driving under the influence. … In this case it was tragic. These incidents are preventable.”
Brown was the son of Kristen Fenske and Jim Brown, and graduated in 2015 from Homer High School. His family described him as a gifted athlete, and said he excelled at hockey, basketball and soccer, and also played football,volleyball and disc golf.
“Drew was the quintessential teammate, and his spirit and tenacity inspired all those who battled alongside him,” his family wrote in his obituary.
According to online court records, Kenai attorney Joseph Skrha represents Cordes. Skrha did not return a phone message seeking comment on the case.
Robl did not know when Cordes would be arrested and return to Alaska, he said, but said it would be soon.
After the Kenai Grand Jury returned the indictment against Cordes, Kenai Superior Court Judge Jennifer Wells issued an arrest warrant and set appearance bail at $100,000 cash and performance bail at $50,000 cash.