CEREMONIAL START – Officials break ground for the 9-mile road to Katlian Bay project Tuesday afternoon. Pictured are, from left, D. Lance Mearig, DOT&PF Southcoast Region Director; Rachel Roy, Sitka Chamber of Commerce executive director; Perry Edwards, U.S. Forest Service Sitka  district ranger; Garry White, executive director of Sitka Economic Development Association; Sitka Sen. Bert Stedman; Ken Cameron, Shee Atika Inc. CEO; John MacKinnon, Alaska DOT commissioner; Mayor Gary Paxton; and Kerry Kuenzi, president of K&E Alaska Inc. (Sentinel Photo)

Macasaet Convicted in 2016 Craig Murder

 

BY SENTINEL STAFF

A Sitka jury returned a verdict of guilty today in the first-degree murder trial of Albert Macasaet, 30. of Klawock. 

Macasaet was charged in the July 31, 2016 strangulation death of his girlfriend, Judylee Guthrie, 27.

 

Macasaet, Guthrie and a group of friends had been drinking in the Prince of Wales Island village of Craig the evening of July 30, 2016. Early the next morning Macasaet reported to Craig Police that Guthrie was missing. Later in the day Macasaet reported to police that he had found Guthrie's body. It was located a short distance away from a Craig area trail that searchers had previously covered, but it was not easily visible from the trail, investigators said.

 

Albert Macasaet is handcuffed after being convicted of first degree murder in the strangulation death of his girlfriend in 2016, today in the Sitka courthouse. (Sentinel Photo)

 

Macasaet's trial started April 24 and the jury started deliberating Thursday afternoon following closing arguments by defense and prosecution attorneys. 

Deliberations resumed this morning and at 6:45 p.m. the jury returned to report their verdict of murder in the first degree. Judge Jude Pate had given the jury the option of finding Macasaet guilty of the lesser included offense of murder in the second degree. 

Macasaet did not display emotion but bowed his head slightly as the verdict was read. The judge asked each juror in turn what their finding was in the charge of murder in the first degree and each in turn said, “guilty.” Macasaet's mother, sitting directly behind him, began to sob loudly as each juror repeated the verdict. On the other side of the courtroom Guthrie's parents were also weeping and consoling each other.

 

Macasaet and Guthrie are the parents of two young children. The jury was told of two previous domestic violence incidents in which Macasaet had strangled Guthrie.

 

There were no witnesses to the murder, so the case was based on circumstantial evidence. It was complicated by what the defense said was ambiguous DNA evidence. The prosecution pointed to Macasaet's changing stories about the events of July 30 and 31, 2016. They reconstructed his whereabouts that night using the cell phone records of his numerous calls, which could be traced to either Klawock or Craig, which are served by different cell towers.

 

After the verdict was read Judge Pate set the sentencing for the week of September 9 in Klawock.

 

 

 

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