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Foster son accused in mother's death near Wasilla arraigned on murder charges

Zaz Hollander
Kenneth Adams, 19, participates in a televised court hearing Tuesday afternoon, July 22, 2014, at the Palmer courthouse after Alaska State Troopers accused him of stabbing his foster mother to death. On Monday, Adams was arraigned in a Palmer Superior Court hearing on murder charges following an indictment handed down Friday. Zaz Hollander / Alaska Dispatch News

PALMER -- Kenneth Adams, the 19-year-old accused of fatally stabbing his foster mother near Wasilla last month, was arraigned on murder charges during a Palmer Superior Court hearing on Monday.

Adams, who rambled confusedly on a live microphone during a late July video court appearance, was indicted by a Palmer grand jury Friday on charges of first- and second-degree murder as well as second-degree arson and first-degree assault.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Adams could face anywhere from 20 to 99 years in prison, prosecutors say. The sentencing range for a second-degree murder charge is five to 99 years.

Alaska State Troopers say Adams stabbed his 66-year-old foster mother, Mollie Ragonesi, with a steak knife during a brief struggle after trying to set fire to his room on July 21. Ragonesi died of her injuries after calling 911; her friend Daniel Ramsey was stabbed multiple times during a struggle with Adams.

Adams, again appearing on a closed-circuit video feed, seemed calmer and polite on Monday compared to his previous conduct. He’s being held at Cook Inlet Pretrial Facility on $500,000 bail plus release to a court-appointed third party.

Superior Court Judge Vanessa White specifically instructed Adams not to “blurt” anything out during Monday’s afternoon hearing.

“Anything you say in court can come back and bite you,” White told him.

She also told Adams that she’ll be the judge presiding over his case.

“Nice to meet you, Judge White,” he answered and later asked the judge if she could “write down the number of my attorney, cuz that’s a good thing to have.”

White assigned an attorney from the Office of Public Advocacy to Adams.

Representatives of MY House, a Wasilla nonprofit that helps homeless teens and young adults, attended the hearing. After the hearing, they handed business cards to Paul Maslakowski, supervisor of OPA’s Palmer criminal section.

Michelle Overstreet, MY House founder, said she couldn’t comment on the nonprofit’s relationship to Adams because of confidentiality restrictions.

Contact Zaz Hollander zhollander@adn.com.