Anchorage man found guilty of 2012 rape downtown

Jerzy Shedlock

Matthew John Jones was found guilty Monday in Anchorage Superior Court of three counts of first-degree sexual assault, charges handed up nearly two years ago after the 26-year-old's arrest in the early morning hours of Aug. 4, 2012.

His victim ran topless from the scene of the rape, underneath a downtown bridge, into a nearby hotel lobby.

Jones was also found guilty of harassment. The jury could not come to a decision on a second-degree assault charge, stemming from allegations Jones choked his victim.

Anchorage police arrested Jones shortly after the sexual assault. He was walking east down Third Avenue away from the northbound portion of the bridge that connects downtown to the neighborhood of Government Hill, according to assistant district attorney Jonas Walker.

Jones' accuser fled following the rape across the street to a Howard Johnson hotel, according to the charging document. When officers arrived they found the 20-year-old woman sitting on a lobby couch "with a sheet over her upper body. (The woman) appeared very upset and had several fresh looking bruises and scratch marks on her face, neck and chest," the charges say.

The state says the two met earlier on the night of Aug. 3, 2012. They had consensual sex outside near Ship Creek prior to the rape, Walker said. Later, around 2 a.m. on Aug. 4, Jones offered to walk the woman home. That's when he pulled the victim under the bridge and "repeatedly, violently raped" her, the prosecutor said.

Jones, wearing a faded yellow dress shirt, stood and remained straight-faced as Superior Court Judge Kevin Saxby read the jury's verdicts. He will be required to register as a sex offender for life.

To return a guilty verdict on the assault charge, the jury was required to find Jones intended to cause harm to the woman. Jurors asked the court if they could find him guilty of the charge if his intention was to intimidate the woman; Saxby instructed the jury to find that he meant to harm his victim, or intimidate and harm.

After the jury left the courtroom, public defender Chong Yim moved to dismiss all charges against his client, arguing prosecutors presented insufficient evidence against Jones. He said there was nothing to support the victim's story.

Judge Saxby quickly denied the motion. "I think there was sufficient evidence for the jury to consider" the charges, he said.

The court set a pretrial date for the assault charge for which Saxby declared a mistrial. Walker said outside the courtroom that the state hasn't decided whether it will pursue retrying Jones on that charge.

Jones' sentencing is set for Nov. 14.

By Jerzy Shedlock