Defendant's fate in grisly murder hinges on intent

KORKOW: Husband murdered wife, but at issue is his state of mind.

November 18, 2008 

He did it.

Both sides of the case agree.

Jimmy Korkow killed his wife by first smashing her head. Then, using four different knives, he stabbed her over and over. All the while, their three children listened to their mother's cries for help in their South Anchorage apartment. The oldest child, 12, hid in a closet.

When it was over, Teresa Korkow had been cut 60 times. Police found her body with one knife protruding from her ear, another buried deep in her chest. Jimmy Korkow sent them to the apartment after a night on the run, chasing the nerve to kill himself, never finding it. He'd left the children alone with their blood-soaked mother on the living room floor.

The question put to the jury in Korkow's trial, which began on Tuesday, is not whether he killed his wife, but whether he meant to. Was it a snap decision in an intoxicated rage, when he didn't know what he was doing? Or did he understand that he was murdering her?

The jury's answer will determine the amount of time Jimmy Korkow, now 37, spends in prison: The rest of his life? Or, perhaps, one day getting out to see his children again.

"It's unexplainable. That's the bottom line in this case," said defense attorney Krista Maciolek during her opening statement to the jury.

The defense isn't fighting the sheer weight of evidence against Korkow -- DNA, the statements of the kids, his own near-confession. Instead, he's asking the jury to conclude that he was too drugged and manic-mad to realize the harm he was inflicting.

The issue is intent.

And intent is the difference between first-degree murder and second-degree murder.

Korkow could get anywhere from 20 to 99 years for first-degree. For second-degree, the range is 10 to 99 years with the average in the 35-50 range.

The "crazy, difficult and violent evidence" can't explain what really happened that night in March 2005 when Teresa Korkow died, Maciolek said. She asked jurors to consider Jimmy Korkow's intoxication when trying to determine his state of mind.

Drug tests show Korkow had cocaine and marijuana in his system at the time of the crime, according to court documents. Based on the broken glass around her body, police theorized he smashed his wife's head in with a glass liquor bottle.

The Korkows met in high school in Oregon and moved to Alaska with their daughters 18 months before the murder. Jimmy got a job in construction and Teresa got a job as a real estate agent. Her boss at the time of her death, Jim Crawford at Century 21 Crawford Realty, said the 30-year-old was fast becoming one of Anchorage's top real estate agents, according to media reports at the time.

Teresa appeared to love her husband dearly, according to work colleagues. But their children, after her murder, told police the relationship was far from fine. The 6-year-old said that her father "punched and pinched her mom and that her dad did not like her mom," according to the original charging document.

The night of the slaying, Teresa Korkow worked late and arrived home around 8:45 p.m. The couple ate dinner with their three kids -- 6, 7 and 12 years old. Then, around 9:30 p.m., neighbors heard a fight. Later, the children heard their mother cry for help, "Oh God help me daddy," according to court documents.

Jimmy Korkow left the apartment and drove 150 miles, ending up in Soldotna where he turned himself into police.

Prosecutor Alan Goodwin showed jurors gruesome photos of Teresa Korkow's body at the crime scene. "He intended to kill her when he did this," he said.

At Jimmy Korkow's arraignment two days after the killing, he wept. Six months later he was still emotionally unable to discuss the case in detail with his lawyer, according to court reports.

He has a history of trouble with the law in Oregon, including two assault charges, court records say.

In court on Tuesday, Korkow wore street clothes and paid close attention to what was going on. He wore a wedding ring. After the proceeding, his attorney, Maciolek, wouldn't say if it was from Teresa.


Find Megan Holland online at adn.com/contact/mholland or call 257-4343.

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