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91-year-old murder suspect released from jail to granddaughter

Duane Marvin, a 91-year-old World War II veteran who suffers from dementia, was arraigned in the Anchorage Correctional Complex court on Wednesday, May 17, 2017, after being charged with first- and second-degree murder and tampering with evidence in the shooting death of his wife Charlotte Marvin, 92, on Sunday. Marvin admitted to police he shot and killed his wife but didn’t know why. (Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News)

A District Court judge approved the release of a 91-year-old murder suspect on Wednesday during an initial court appearance at the Anchorage Correctional Complex, appointing the man's granddaughter as a custodian.

Duane Marvin appeared at the Anchorage jail courtroom. He was pushed to the podium in a wheelchair by an officer. He cried through most of the hearing and made statements about killing his wife, 92-year-old Charlotte Marvin, and not understanding why.

Gena Powers, the granddaughter, told District Court Judge Alex Swiderski she lives at home with Duane Marvin and provides him constant care. Powers said her grandfather has dementia, though she did not think he took any medication for it.

"Can you tell me what's wrong with him?" asked Duane Marvin's private attorney, Jon Buchholdt.

"Well, he's 91 and has dementia," Powers said. "He has trouble walking and communicating. He can't hear."

Duane Marvin turned himself in Monday, saying he shot and killed his wife Charlotte in an upstairs bedroom of their Midtown Anchorage home, police say. He faces three charges in the death of his wife: first- and second-degree murder and tampering with evidence.

The charges against Duane Marvin say he shot his wife in the back of the head and then hid the murder weapon. Family has called the shooting an accident.

Powers said she grew up in the home where the alleged murder occurred. She said she was prepared to take time off from running her hair salon and would have eyes on her grandfather "24/7."

Powers assured the attorneys she removed all the firearms from the home. Buchholdt asked her if Duane Marvin was a gun enthusiast, and she responded that he was a decorated World War II veteran.

Duane Marvin is wheeled to a podium at the Anchorage Correctional Complex courtroom during his arraignment on Wednesday, May 17, 2017. (Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News)

Judge Swiderski approved Powers as Duane Marvin's court-appointed custodian after she answered the handful of questions. The judge said he would not be setting bail.

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Bergt said the state had planned to ask the court to set a performance bond, an amount of money meant to ensure a defendant follows rules set by the court prior to trial if released. Prosecutors take the position, given the evidence, that the case is a murder, Bergt said.

"I have no issue with that, but I don't see how a performance bond would protect the public" from Duane Marvin, Judge Swiderski said.

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