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Wasilla woman’s attacker escaped house arrest. Nobody told her – and then he showed up.

  • Author: Zaz Hollander
  • Updated: November 17, 2017
  • Published November 16, 2017

Karen Steward gets a hug from Heather Robb during closing arguments in the trial of Jordan King in the courthouse in Palmer on Thursday. King is charged with attempted murder of Steward’s daughter — Robb’s sister — among other charges. (Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News)

PALMER — Relatives say the criminal justice system failed a Valley woman despite the probable long prison time coming for a Wasilla man who's already admitted he abducted and raped her last year.

Shawna Robb, 41, was the victim of a younger co-worker who attacked her in December 2015, then admitted he kidnapped and sexually assaulted her in a pre-planned abduction in March 2016 — hours after escaping the court-approved supervision of his parents.

Jordan King, the 25-year-old accused of the crime, faces more than a dozen criminal counts connected to the two incidents.

Nobody contacted Robb to let her know that King was out, even though his stepfather called Alaska State Troopers to ask for help with the increasingly difficult job of watching him, and then called 911 as soon as he discovered King gone.

King's trial is underway in Palmer Superior Court. A jury on Thursday began deliberating numerous charges against him, including attempted murder, vehicle theft, assault, eluding and attempted sexual assault. A verdict could come as early as Friday.

"Something needs to occur after this trial," Josh Fannon, a Palmer attorney who's known Robb for years, said in an interview Thursday. "If this doesn't get fixed now, it's going to happen to somebody else. I'm devastated for that family."

Alaska Dispatch News generally does not publish the names of victims in sexual assault cases. In this case, Robb and family members agreed to be named.

Robb suffered a deep gash in her leg as well as cuts, bruises and bite marks in a 12-hour ordeal last year during which her mouth was taped, her hands bound and she was led through trees by a dog leash, she testified during the nearly two-week trial. She said she was sexually assaulted twice.

Public defender Krista Maciolek talks with her client Jordan King during closing arguments in the trial of Jordan King in the courthouse in Palmer on Thursday. (Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News)

King already entered guilty pleas to one count of kidnapping, second-degree assault and sexual assault. Even King's attorney acknowledged the jury was likely to convict on most charges; she questioned the validity of the attempted murder charge as well as an attempted sexual assault charge.

Robb's twin sister, Heather, this week said she was encouraged about a guilty verdict but blamed state lapses for the abduction and all that followed.

Troopers didn't pick up King when he ran and didn't notify anyone he was gone, Robb said.

"Maybe she wouldn't have spent 12 hours being beaten, slashed and bitten and raped repeatedly," Heather Robb said this week during a break in the trial.

Robb and King worked together at a local restaurant. She's a manager and he was a cook.

King had a "failed relationship" with Robb that included one sexual encounter, assistant district attorney Brittany Dunlop said in closing arguments Thursday.

Robb felt sorry for the younger man, described as having an abusive childhood, but was also scared of him, Dunlop said.

King was motivated by "obsession, jealousy and rage," she said. Notes found in his room included a planning document — "bind Shawna, put in trunk" — as well as tortured love poems and a letter to his mother telling her "now my purpose is murder."

Prosecutors say King first broke into Robb's house in December 2015 with plans to take her to a remote mining cabin near Eureka. He tried to sexually assault her and hit her over the ear with a pistol, Dunlop said.

King was arrested after a high-speed police chase in a car he stole from Robb. She had fled, barefoot.

By late December, a judge had released King on reduced, $25,000 bail to third-party custodians: his mother, grandmother and stepfather.

Heather Robb and Karen Steward talk after closing arguments in the trial of Jordan King in the courthouse in Palmer on Thursday. (Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News)

His stepfather testified during the trial this month that King had started "wandering," so he called Alaska State Troopers to come get him but they refused. Told to turn him in, the stepfather made up an excuse to get King out of the house, but his stepson escaped while he was in the bathroom.

The stepfather called 911 just before 8 p.m. March 11 to report King gone, according to troopers Sgt. Mike Henry.

Troopers opened a "reportable incident" file, which Henry described as a placeholder for an investigation.

By about 4:30 a.m. March 12, King was at Robb's house, holding a knife to her throat and telling her to be quiet, she testified. Robb carried a gun after the first assault but had left it inside.

She screamed, alerting her 17-year-old niece, who hid in a closet and called 911 as King put Robb in the back of her Ford F-250 pickup and drove her to a pre-planned location in Meadow Lakes.

Nobody knew where she was.

"It was the longest day of our lives," Heather Robb said during an interview.

Shawna Robb testified that she tried to cut King's neck in the truck, and then he slashed her in the leg. After he pushed her from the truck and covered it with a tarp, King forced Robb to hide under a blanket to avoid detection by a helicopter and other searchers.

She said she was sexually assaulted twice at that location before finally convincing him to walk out with her and turn himself in, according to testimony during the trial.

The state's actions increased Robb's danger, said Fannon, a criminal defense attorney. King's parents did the right thing, he said. Judges routinely tell third parties to call 911 if they feel like they're in danger.

It was troopers who failed, Fannon said.

"This is the most dangerous guy I've seen in 15 years," he said. "They did their job and they called troopers and eight and a half hours went by. They couldn't be bothered to recognize this is as serious as it gets. They couldn't be bothered to pick up the phone and call the victim."

The state prosecutor, Dunlop, said normally her office would notify a victim in this case. But she wasn't notified until 6 a.m. the next day, when Robb was already abducted. A trooper who knew she was involved in the December assault case contacted her.

"Unfortunately, as far as I know right now — there is no means for the court to communicate the bail conditions to law enforcement," Dunlop wrote in an email. "So, when a dispatcher took that call at 8pm (after court hours) on a Friday night, there was no way to verify what his conditions of release were, and who needed to be contacted."

The state doesn't currently supervise people out on release, but changes including supervision are coming in January under Alaska's sweeping criminal justice reform known as Senate Bill 91, according to Alaska Department of Corrections spokeswoman Megan Edge. The state is moving ahead with a new pretrial division in spite of legislative proposals to change or gut the reforms.

Under the planned pretrial changes, someone like King would be supervised and assessed for the likelihood he'd commit another criminal activity, Edge said.

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