Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - A number of witnesses testified on Wednesday in the double murder trial of Laron Graham on Wednesday at the Dimond Courthouse in Juneau.
Graham is accused of shooting to death two people Robert Meieres and Elizabeth Tonsmeire at a West Juneau apartment in November of 2015.
Wednesday morning saw defense attorney Natasha Norris seek clarification from Judge Philip Pallenberg on whether evidence of Tonsmeire’s alleged drug use and links to prostitution could be introduced in front of the jury, thereby establishing a possible connection to someone beside the defendant having motive as the possible murderer.
Testimony on Wednesday began with James Barrett, who said he knew both victims and loaned a truck to Tonsmeire in the weeks before her death. Norris cross-examined Barrett on how long he knew the victims – and about Tonsmeire dropping off an Apple computer with him just before her death – with instructions to give it to police if anything happened to her.
“She was nervous,” Barrett told the jury, adding that she told him, “If something were to happen to [her] to get the computer to the FBI.”
Barrett also testified that he was Meieres’ landlord at one point when the victim resided at the Bergman Hotel in downtown. He told jurors he suspected Meieres of being involved in “underworld” types of business and possibly of selling drugs.
Next on the stand was a former maintenance employee of the Juneau Hotel, David Blanton Williams, who told jurors he met Meieres in jail and that he had lunch with Meieres before his death – and that he knew the victim to carry “a lot” of drugs, a gun and cash with him.
“It was in the thousands,” Williams said of the amount of money.
Williams also said that Meieres owned “a lot” of guns, and specifically that Meieres dealt in crystal methamphetamine.
“The reason I knew about [the drugs] is that he was braggadocious about it,” Williams added.
Williams was followed by JPD dispatcher Meghan Kennedy-Brown, who testified that she was on duty when Kelly Tonsmeire, Elizabeth’s father, called 911 in relation to finding her and Meieres’ bodies in her apartment. She told jurors she was the dispatcher that received the call from Kelly.
Some of the 15 jurors were visibly shaken when they heard a recording of the emergency call, with one of the jurors seen wiping away tears after hearing the audio.
Kelly Tonsmeire took the stand as well and related his daughter's life story and testimony about the discovery of the bodies. According to Kelly, his visit to her apartment followed her missing a family dinner that had been previously scheduled.
"I walked in on the most horrific scene you could ever imagine," Kelly said.
Prosecutors contend that Graham shot Meieres in the head after a drug deal went bad and the victim used a racial epithet. The state alleges that Graham then shot Tonsmeire because she witnessed the shooting.
Graham told the court that he intends to testify at the trial.
On Tuesday, jurors heard testimony from William Reyes, who said the defendant was acting paranoid and smoked methamphetamine in the hours before the murder of Meieres and Tonsmeire.
The entire jury will hear the case. At the close of the trial three alternates will be randomly selected and the remainder will consider the verdict.
The case is expected to last up to six weeks.