Vermillion pleads guilty to manslaughter

Update:

A day before Paul Vermillion was scheduled to go to trial for murder, he accepted an agreement and pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter instead.

The Anchorage man entered a guilty plea before Superior Court Judge Charles Huguelet during a motion hearing Monday at the Kenai Courthouse. He had previously faced one count of murder in the first degree and two counts of murder in the second degree for the December 2013 death of Genghis Muskox in Cooper Landing.

“I plead guilty,” Vermillion told the court.

Defense Attorney Andrew Lambert and District Attorney Scot Leaders told the court they had reached some final settlements late Sunday night.

“We’ve discussed it in depth,” Lambert said of his conversations with Vermillion about the agreement .

Huguelet proceeded to explain all the rights Vermillion would waive with a guilty plea, and asked if it was what he really wanted to do and whether the agreement read in court was the one he had been offered.

“There are no surprises, your honor,” he answered.

Lambert said evidence brought to light by the defense that presents different facts than those heard during oral arguments last year was a factor in the change of plea. During a January trial call, Leaders requested more time before trial to go over a report from Lambert detailing an analysis of the Cooper Landing crime scene that interpreted events much differently than the state had. At the time, Lambert said the analysis supported the self-defense argument Vermillion’s defense has been claiming since his arrest.

Huguelet scheduled two trial days for Vermillion’s sentencing in early August, at which time Lambert said the defense will present its evidence as well as some witnesses.

“We’re going to put on some expert testimony for the court to hear,” Lambert said.

Muskox’s parents, Susan Muskat and John Cox, were present at the hearing and had been thoroughly briefed on the state’s agreement with Lambert Sunday night, Leaders said. Leaders said that while he is confident they understand the reasons for the agreement, they told him that “while they are acquiescing to this agreement,” they are not supporting it.

The maximum sentence for the class A felony is 20 years, but Leaders and Lambert said the agreement they reached calls for the presumptive range of 7-11 years. The agreement includes that Vermillion’s time served in jail and on an ankle monitor since his arrest nearly two and a half years ago will count toward his sentence, they said.

Vermillion will report back to court Thursday to remand to jail, as Lambert said they are still working out some issues as far as his medical health. As the Iraq War veteran answered Huguelet’s questions, he said he is currently taking prescription medications for seizures, anxiety and migraines.

Original story:

Paul Vermillion, 32, of Anchorage, has pleaded guilty to a charge of manslaughter for the 2013 death of Genghis Muskox in Cooper Landing.

In a motion hearing Monday at the Kenai Courthouse, Defense Attorney Andrew Lambert told Superior Court Judge Charles Huguelet that an agreement had been reached with the state Sunday night. Vermillion entered a guilty plea to manslaughter, a class A felony. Huguelet set a two-day sentencing for Aug. 2–3.

Lambert said the defense will present evidence and expert testimony at that time, which he said were a factor in the change of plea.

District Attorney Scot Leaders said Muskox’s parents, Susan Muskat and John Cox, who were present at the hearing, are acquiescing to the agreement but are not supporting it.

Vermillion will remand to jail at the Kenai Courthouse on Thursday.

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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