Trial underway for Washington man accused of killing Ketchikan surgeon

Jordan Joplin
Jordan Joplin leaves the courtroom in the Ketchikan State Building after he pleaded not guilty to first- and second-degree murder. (KRBD file photo by Leila Kheiry)

Six years after Ketchikan surgeon Dr. Eric Garcia was found dead, the man accused of killing him is on trial in Anchorage. The state of Alaska is accusing 38-year-old Jordan Joplin of killing Garcia and attempting to ship Garcia’s valuables to Washington state. The trial started Monday in Anchorage Superior Court.

Garcia had worked at PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center for a decade before he was found dead on March 27, 2017. Garcia hadn’t been expected at work for some time because he was supposed to be traveling for a conference.

Ketchikan police say Joplin called them saying he was a close friend of Garcia’s and that Garcia hadn’t been seen in 10 days. Joplin said he had last visited Garcia on March 16. Police say Joplin left Ketchikan the day after the phone call.  Joplin hails from Maple Valley, Washington.

There wasn’t a clear cause of death for Garcia when he was discovered dead at his home. His body was sent off for a standard autopsy. Later, police would request a toxicology report.

But just a day after Garcia was found dead, money started to leak out of his bank account. Police said they were able to trace the money to Joplin and he was indicted on a felony theft charge. 

Garcia’s family also reported that some of his valuables were missing, shortly after his death. The doctor was known to have collections of expensive watches, wines and hard liquor. 

According to police, Joplin had shipped Garcia’s personal belongings to his Washington address. The shipments were intercepted with the help of Washington police. 

Joplin was extradited from Washington to Ketchikan on first- and second-degree murder charges, along with theft. He’s been in custody for the past five years.

Joplin’s trial had been pushed back several times, and delayed even further by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was originally moved to Juneau due to the amount of publicity surrounding the case in Ketchikan, and then was moved even further to Anchorage. 

An administrator in Anchorage’s court system told KRBD the trial was slated to last six weeks. Jurors were chosen last week. 

Superior Court Judge Michael Wolverton is handling the case. Joplin is being represented by Public Defender Mary Fleming Burnell, of Anchorage. Burnell did not return a request for comment on Monday.

The trial is being livestreamed.

Raegan Miller is a Report for America corps member for KRBD. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one. Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution at

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