Crime & Courts

Man accused of murder in stabbing death dies while awaiting trial

State prosecutors this week dismissed murder charges against a man accused in a fatal stabbing in downtown Anchorage who died last month.

Caleb Irwin, 41, was awaiting trial on two counts of second-degree murder and one charge of manslaughter in the death of 27-year-old Briar Dickson. A judge ordered Irwin’s release from custody at a bail hearing on April 14 so he could enter hospice care. He died just over two weeks later.

The stabbing occurred at about 1:30 a.m. on June 3, 2022 on West Fourth Avenue, according to a summary of police reports written by Assistant District Attorney Patrick McKay and included with the charges. Irwin became involved in a confrontation with two people he did not know, according to the charges.

Witnesses described Dickson as calm and said he was acting as a peacemaker, according to the summary. Irwin punched Dickson and stabbed him with a knife, it said.

Irwin called 911 after he stabbed Dickson, the summary said. Dickson underwent emergency surgery but died at the hospital.

Irwin was arrested and remained at the Anchorage Correctional Complex for nearly a year before his release in April.

During the bail hearing, Dickson’s friends and family gave statements in support of Irwin’s release, the Alaska Department of Law said in a statement. They said the day Dickson died was the hardest day of their lives, but they expressed forgiveness to Irwin, the statement said.


At the hearing, his family described Dickson as a “bright, strong and special young man,” the law department statement said.

Irwin apologized to Dickson’s family during the April hearing, according to the statement. He expressed remorse for killing Dickson and asked “God for the judgment” that he deserves, it said.

The decision to release a defendant on bail, including in cases involving hospice, is made by the court, law department spokeswoman Patty Sullivan said Wednesday.

A judge in mid-April ordered Irwin to be released to an Anchorage hospital or Mat-Su Regional Medical Center until he could be transferred to Veteran’s Affairs custody, according to online court records.

Criminal charges are not automatically dismissed when a defendant dies. Instead, prosecutors can file dismissal documents or a judge can make the decision, McKay said in an email.

In this case, McKay filed a motion Tuesday, a month after Irwin’s death, to dismiss the charges against him. He said it often takes time to verify a death before officials can dismiss charges.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter focusing on breaking news and public safety. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. Contact her at