Trial of Kavairlook murder suspects postponed until January

A hearing on Tuesday in Fairbanks Superior Court postponed the trial date for the four men accused of the killing of John Kavairlook Jr. The trial was scheduled to begin next week, but now is set to begin on January 23rd of next year.

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Kavairlook was shot and killed outside of the Rock N Rodeo Bar on the Old Steese Highway in Fairbanks in May, 2015.  Four suspects fled the scene, and then scattered across the country.  While Fairbanks police have since identified all four of those suspects, only three are currently in custody.

That includes the man who allegedly pulled the trigger that night: Patrick Dale Burton-Hill.  Fairbanks police assisted in the arrest of Burton-Hill in Cleveland, Ohio, but he remains in custody there, where he is also a suspect in an unrelated incident.

Patrick’s brother Kelvin Dale Burton has been charged and indicted for his involvement in the incident, but is still at large.

Two other suspects are being held at the Fairbanks Correctional Facility.

Anchorage attorney Steve Wells is defending Joel Roland Joseph, who is accused of first and second degree murder for his involvement in the incident.  Wells predicts that the trial won’t happen until all four suspects are together in Alaska – and that might take a while.

“There are specific provisions in the Code of Criminal Procedure to allow a trial to be moved while you are waiting for someone to be extradited,” Wells explained.  “And it makes little sense to do a trial right now, where you are going to have to turn around and do the same trial in six months or a year when you get that other person brought up here.”

Charging documents include details from a witness who claims Joseph verbally encouraged the shooter to open fire at Kavairlook.  Wells said that Joseph had no intent to cause the murder.

Kavairlook was originally from the Seward Peninsula village of Koyuk, and graduated from the Galena Interior Learning Academy boarding school in 2010. He was working as a plumber in Fairbanks at the time of his death. He was with his wife Shaelene at the Rock N Rodeo for a night out after the recent birth of their daughter Kinley.

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