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Police say homeless man killed for $7, beer

Lisa Demer

Teenage suspects arrested in the killing of a homeless man early on July 12 at Centennial Park robbed him for $7 and change, plus a case of beer, a charging document filed Saturday alleges.

They then stomped on his head and kicked him to death, the charging document says.

Both suspects are 18-year-old Anchorage residents, and at least one of them was living in a camp at Centennial Park in northeast Muldoon, where the victim also lived, police say.

The teens charged with second-degree murder are Marc Steven Ewing, who had his initial court appearance Saturday afternoon, and Lawrence Michael Lobdell, who is in custody on suicide watch. Lobdell's court appearance was rescheduled for today.

They were charged Friday night in the death of James Lockery, 37. Both are being held on $200,000 bail and requirements for a third-party custodian.

Witnesses told police that Lobdell lived in the park.

Lobdell fled to Fairbanks after the killing but returned to Anchorage voluntarily and talked to police, the charging document filed against him said.

The complaint against Ewing wasn't available Saturday. But in court, Magistrate Brian Johnson read off the charges: Second-degree murder and first-degree robbery.

Dressed in a yellow jailhouse uniform, shackled hands clutching the official paperwork, Ewing at first hesitated when the magistrate asked whether he understood the charges against him. When Johnson clarified that didn't mean he agreed with the charges, Ewing said he understood.

He said he planned to hire his own lawyer. "Not court appointed," Ewing said.

'My son is not evil'

Speaking at the doorway of her Muldoon apartment, his mother, Mary Ewing, said Saturday she doesn't believe he had anything to do with the killing. She said he lives with her, not at the park, and that he's a good kid. She said she probably shouldn't say too much but wanted people to know he has the support of family.

"I know my son. He did not do this," she said. "My son is not evil. He would not kill anybody."

She said he wasn't in school last year but that he worked with her. She didn't want to say where.

According to a Daily News article from 2006, Marc Ewing was among the youths from around Alaska who participated that June in a five-day Alaska Points of Light Youth Leadership Institute.

Lobdell told police that he knew Lockery as another homeless man staying at Centennial Park, the document says. The suspects went to where Lockery was sleeping to rob him, the document says.

Lockery woke up as Lobdell took money, about $7, from his back pocket, so Lobdell punched him a few times and kicked him in the face, the document says.

Lobdell also took Lockery's case of beer and a green duffel bag, the document says. The suspects rifled through the bag, scattering the contents as they walked back to the covered pavilion at Centennial Park. They shared the beer with other people there and dumped what was left in the duffel bag on a table.

The suspects soon returned to Lockery's camp.

"When they got there, they immediately began assaulting Lockery, climbing on top of the bleachers next to Lockery and stomping on Lockery's head and upper body with both feet. They kicked and punched Lockery multiple times," the charging document says.

Lobdell then went back through Lockery's pocket and took some coins and his cell phone, the document says. He checked his voice mail with the cell phone, then took out the battery and threw both phone and battery into the woods "because he was scared," the charging document says.

Lockery never fought back. He tried to defend himself by putting his arms and hands over his head and screaming. Lobdell admitted he had blood on his hands, and that he put his hands on Lockery's back and shoulders, the charging document says.

Witnesses told police they left Lockery at his camp around 12:30 or 1 a.m. One was camping about 60 to 75 yards away and told police detectives he heard a struggle from Lockery's camp around 2 a.m.

He could hear Lockery pleading with his assailants.

Lobdell, who is almost 19, already has amassed criminal convictions for vehicle tampering, burglary and theft. Ewing turned 18 just 27 days before Lockery died. He doesn't appear to have a prior criminal record as an adult. Both are longtime Alaska residents, collecting Permanent Fund dividends here.

Lockery's death was the eighth in a string of deaths of Anchorage men who were homeless or well familiar with life on the streets. Police say there's not evidence of foul play in the rest; most were related to alcohol abuse.

'Killed over nothing'

Two of Lockery's friends found his body early that morning and asked a man who had been cooking his breakfast in the park to call police.

"They said there's a guy over there in a pool of blood. Do you have a phone? Can you call 911?" Jimmie Hartley said on Saturday. He drives a dump truck for a living and has been sleeping in his Suburban nearby to save money.

The dispatcher asked him to check whether the man was still alive. He walked over to the bleachers. He touched the man's arm. It was cold.

Saturday evening, a week later, Hartley was still shaken. He can't get the man's face out of his mind.

"I grew up in Mountain View and it's been pretty tough. I've been beaten a few times," Hartley said.

"I've never seen anybody beaten like he was beaten. His face was swollen. Both eyes were blackened and swollen shut."

Hartley said he's part Native but hid it when he was young, in an era when there were "No Natives allowed" signs on some Anchorage businesses. He remembers a village kid from his childhood getting assaulted by bullies.

"I stood by and did nothing," Hartley said. "I am not standing by anymore when it comes to this kind of stuff."

Told the suspects got $7 and beer, Hartley said "they killed a man over nothing."

"They got his money. They got his beer. They got his cell phone. What more can they take other than his life?" Hartley said.

Find Lisa Demer online at adn.com/contact/ldemer or call 257-4390.


By LISA DEMER
ldemer@adn.com