Crime & Courts

Son of former Alaska state lawmaker acquitted of first-degree murder in father’s death; hung jury on other charges

An Anchorage jury on Monday found Tallon Westlake not guilty of first degree murder in the death of his father, former Alaska lawmaker Dean Westlake, according to the Alaska Department of Law.

After days of deliberating, jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the other charges Westlake faced, including second-degree murder and tampering with evidence.

The outcome of the eight-day trial means Tallon Westlake didn’t immediately walk free, because the three remaining charges the jury hung on revert to pre-trial status, said Paul Miovas, the lead prosecutor in the case. Westlake hadn’t yet requested a bail hearing as of Monday afternoon, Miovas said. Department of Corrections records showed Tallon Westlake as being in custody at Cook Inlet Pre-Trial.

The state cannot try Westlake again for first-degree murder after his acquittal, but it could choose to move for a new trial to resolve the other charges, Miovas said. No decision has been made on the prospect of a second trial, he said.

The charges against Tallon Westlake stemmed from Dean Westlake’s August 20, 2022 death in Anchorage, which police said at the time was a result of a beating. In addition to a career in law enforcement and business, Dean Westlake served as Democratic state representative for District 40, in the Kotzebue region, in 2017 but resigned later that year after sexual harassment allegations and information that he’d fathered a child with a 16-year-old when he was 28 became public. Dean Westlake was 62 when he died.

At the outset of the trial, defense attorneys argued that police had quickly turned to Tallon Westlake as their central suspect, without considering other possibilities, and questioned whether the state could prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

Michelle Theriault Boots

Michelle Theriault Boots is a longtime reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. She focuses on in-depth stories about the intersection of public policy and Alaskans' lives. Before joining the ADN in 2012, she worked at daily newspapers up and down the West Coast and earned a master's degree from the University of Oregon.