ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – An Alaska appeals court has reversed two of three guilty verdicts saying the judge who presided over the trial failed to give the jury proper instructions before deliberation.
The Anchorage Daily News reported Friday that 28-year-old Thomas Cottam Jr. was convicted of multiple murder charges after he confessed to the machete killing of 81-year-old raspberry farm owner Steven Garcia of Palmer.
The state Court of Appeals overturned the two of the convictions Wednesday after discovering the judge instructed the jury in the self-defense but not heat of passion defense.
Court officials say the decision means Cottam is entitled to a new trial.
Authorities say Cottam told investigators that Garcia came after him with a machete and Cottam “blacked out” before regaining consciousness over Garcia’s dead body.