Defense disputes state evidence in Bonnie Craig murder case

Casey Grove
Kenneth Dion seated with his defense team during opening arguments of his murder trial in an Anchorage Superior courtroom on Tuesday, May 17, 2011. Dion is accused of killing 18-year-old college student Bonnie Craig in 1994.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Kenneth Dion seated in an Anchorage Superior courtroom on Tuesday, May 17, 2011, where he is standing trial for the rape and murder of Bonnie Craig, an 18-year-old college student found dead in or near McHugh Creek at the bottom of a cliff in 1994.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Bonnie Craig's sister Samantha Campbell, left, her mother Karen Foster, middle, and grandfather Kaj Larsen, listen to the state's opening statement during the rape-and-murder case against Kenneth Dion in Anchorage on Tuesday, May 17, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Assistant Attorney General Paul Miovas addresses the jury as he outlined the state's rape-and-murder case against Kenneth Dion during an opening statement on Tuesday, May 17, 2011. Superior Court Judge Jack Smith listens to the cold case prosecutor at right.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Photograph of 18-year-old college student Bonnie Craig was shown to the jury during opening arguments in the murder trial of Kenneth Dion in an Anchorage Superior courtroom on Tuesday, May 17, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Karen Foster, mother of 18-year-old college student Bonnie Craig who was murdered in 1994, speaks with Anchorage Police officers after the opening arguments in the murder trial of Kenneth Dion in an Anchorage Superior courtroom. on Tuesday, May 17, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Karen Foster, mother of 18-year-old college student Bonnie Craig who was murdered in 1994, wore a scarf made up of photographs of her daughter to the opening arguments in the murder trial of Kenneth Dion in an Anchorage Superior courtroom on Tuesday, May 17, 2011.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News

A lawyer for Kenneth Dion, the man accused of raping and killing 18-year-old Bonnie Craig in 1994, told a jury Wednesday that Craig wasn't raped by Dion. The two had consensual sex, he said.

Craig wasn't murdered either, Andrew Lambert argued: She fell to her death off a cliff.

Jurors had heard from prosecutors the day before. It was the defense attorney's turn to tell Dion's side of the story, and Lambert disputed everything except the fact that Craig and Dion had sexual contact.

"Seventeen years later, you are going to learn that Bonnie Craig was not murdered and sexually assaulted," Lambert said before a packed courtroom.

Craig's body was found in McHugh Creek on Sept. 28, 1994. Her death haunted Anchorage residents as it remained unsolved for more than a decade. A DNA sample linking Dion to semen found inside Craig's body led to his indictment in 2007.

Dion, 41, was expressionless through Day 2 of his murder trial, wearing a black shirt and light tie. He did not appear to talk much with his attorney, if at all.

Dion was never at McHugh Creek the day Craig died and Alaska State Troopers found no evidence to say otherwise, Lambert told the jury.

Lambert said Dion and Craig had consensual sex, but the attorney did not offer any details from Dion's memory about when or where that sexual encounter occurred.

"We're not going to dispute, at all, that Ken Dion's DNA is in Bonnie's vagina, on her underwear, or on the back of her pants," Lambert said. He added that they didn't dispute DNA evidence that a drop of blood at the top of the cliff belonged to Craig.

"But every expert that's going to come in here will tell you that the fact that there's DNA does not mean that Ken murdered and raped Bonnie Craig," Lambert said.

Lambert said Craig tumbled off the 35-foot cliff, striking her head on rocks on the way down, up to a week after the sexual encounter with Dion. She died at the bottom of the cliff within 15 minutes, Lambert said. He held up pictures of McHugh Creek.

"You can see, this is a sloping cliff, and there are many, many, many jagged rocks," Lambert said.

Aside from the DNA evidence, Lambert attacked every part of the state's case Wednesday over the course of his roughly 90-minute opening statement.

The defense attorney told jurors that:

• There's no evidence from any witnesses that they saw Bonnie Craig with a red-haired man like Dion before her death, or that anyone saw Dion near Craig's house or the crime scene 10 miles to the south.

• An orthopedic surgeon hiking at McHugh Creek told investigators he saw Bonnie Craig some time after 10 a.m. on the day of her death, Lambert said. The doctor will testify he saw her bounding down some steps and that she was with two other men and a woman. The hiker said Craig looked happy. "She was having fun. She didn't appear to be in any danger," Lambert said.

• Alaska State Troopers didn't photograph the cliff area above where Craig's body was found. "There's not a single photo that you'll see in this case that shows this upper area," Lambert said.

• Troopers lost videos of the scene. One showed them removing Craig's body from the creek, Lambert said. Another showed troopers demonstrating how a body could float from below the cliff to where Craig was found. Someone checked out the videos from the troopers and never returned them, he said.

• If a girl had been bludgeoned before being taken to the cliff, there would have been much more blood than the single drop found by investigators. "There's no trail of blood," Lambert said. Experts will say that, too, he said.

• There's no evidence that Dion ever had Craig in his black Ford Tempo or anyone else's vehicle, Lambert said.

• Before finding semen inside Craig, troopers told her parents they thought she had died from a fall down the cliff. One investigator was still favoring the accidental-death theory about two years later, Lambert said.

• Experts for the defense will testify that a scratch in Craig's vagina is not necessarily evidence of a sexual assault and could have been caused by consensual sex, Lambert said.

Dion was in prison in New Hampshire for a series of armed robberies at the time of his indictment.

He initially told investigators that he had never seen Craig before, prosecutors told the jury Tuesday.

The trial continues today.

Reach Casey Grove at casey.grove@adn.com or 257-4589.


By CASEY GROVE
casey.grove@adn.com