Crime & Courts

Anchorage man charged with second-degree murder 4 years after shooting

A 35-year-old man was arrested earlier this month and charged with second-degree murder, about four years after police say he fatally shot a man in southeast Anchorage.

The charges come after an Anchorage police detective was asked by the district attorney’s office this year to look into the case.

A criminal complaint filed by Detective Gary Curtis details a string of events on Dec. 3, 2017, that started with a search for a missing phone and resulted in the death of 26-year-old Joshua Statham.

According to the criminal complaint:

Statham and his fiancee were moving into a new apartment that night. After moving several large items into the apartment, his fiancee noticed her phone had been removed from their GMC Yukon. The couple drove around to look for it while calling the number from Statham’s phone.

Statham’s fiancee noticed a man walking around in the area using a phone that looked similar to hers. They saw him again when they stopped at the Holiday convenience store near East 68th Avenue and Lake Otis Parkway.

After pulling away from the store, they saw the man they believed took her phone walking and Statham stopped the SUV, near the intersection of 68th and O’Brien Street.

Statham didn’t know the man, who was later identified as Joseph Thomas Jones Sr., his fiancee told investigators. She described the conversation as calm and polite.

Witnesses said Jones was holding the phone out toward Statham when Statham “reached forward in a grabbing motion, but the phone fell to the ground,” the complaint said.

“Joshua reached down and appeared to pull his pants up before straightening again. At this point, both (witnesses) reported Joseph pulled out a gun and began shooting, hitting Joshua.”

Statham tried to grab the gun and Jones shot him again, the complaint said. Statham was unarmed.

Jones then turned the gun toward Statham’s friend, who had been following the couple in his own car and planned to help with their move, according to the complaint. Two shots hit the car and the man grabbed his own gun and fired back, the complaint said. Jones ran from the scene.

Another of Statham’s friends had been driving to the apartment and saw the shooting. He pulled up to Statham, loaded him into the vehicle and headed toward a hospital while Statham’s fiancee followed behind. Statham lost consciousness during the drive.

He had internal bleeding from a gunshot wound to his abdomen and died at the hospital, according to the complaint.

A phone found inside the SUV that took Statham to the hospital was confirmed to belong to Jones. Investigators believed Statham grabbed the phone before he got into the car but dropped it at some point.

At the time, police released a photo of Jones from security footage at the gas station and asked for help identifying him. Officers made contact with him over the phone about a month after the shooting but were unable to reach him again, the complaint said.

Police put out a locate in the APSIN database, which is used statewide by law enforcement when they come into contact with people during a stop or for other incidents. The system would have flagged Jones if he had come into contact with law enforcement during the next year, but the locate expires after a year and must be renewed to remain in the system.

Jones didn’t come into contact with police during the following year and the locate expired.

Anchorage police did not immediately answer questions Thursday about whether the department made other efforts to contact Jones since that first interaction in early 2018, why the locate was not renewed or if the case had still been an active investigation in the years following.

Detective Curtis wrote that he was asked by the district attorney’s office this year to follow up on the case. He said in the complaint that his investigation involved completing forensic analyses on the phones that had not been possible in 2017. He interviewed the witnesses again and showed them a photo lineup, which was not done during the initial investigation.

Curtis renewed the locate in the police database, and within 10 days, officers made contact with Jones. He was interviewed Friday at police headquarters.

“It was something random, it was something that happened out the blue, I wasn’t expecting for it to happen, you know,” he told police. “At the end of the day, it was something that I felt like I was doing what was right to protect myself and my life.”

Jones did not make further statements after consulting with an attorney, and police arrested him Friday night.

Jones was indicted Tuesday on two counts of second-degree murder, manslaughter, misconduct involving weapons and third-degree assault. Bail was set at $500,000, according to court records.

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