Sitka man with Juneau ties charged with murder

Reuben Yerkes. (Photo courtesy Sitka Police Department)

A Sitka man formerly of Juneau was charged with first degree murder Saturday, after telling police he killed his girlfriend during an argument.

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39-year-old Reuben Yerkes is being held in custody at the Sitka Jail on $500,000 bail. He was arraigned on the murder charge during a teleconference at noon Friday. On-call weekend magistrate Elaine Jack of Angoon presided over the phone.

Sitka police found Yerkes in the lobby at 3:02 a.m., stating he had just killed his girlfriend and wanted to turn himself in.

Officers went to their shared residence on Davidoff Street. They found the victim deceased on the bed, with what appeared to be two gunshot wounds on the right side of her head. Detective Ryan Silva also observed two 9 mm shell casings and a plastic holster on the floor, as well as a 9 mm semi-automatic Glock pistol on the table next to the entry door.

The State Medical Examiner identified the victim as 28-year-old Ali Nicole Clayton of Sitka.

Yerkes is a municipal legal assistant with the City and Borough of Sitka.

Yerkes told police he had consumed a lot of alcohol that evening at friend’s residence, while at a party with Clayton. He said they argued as they were leaving and took a cab home, where the argument continued.

Yerkes reported that Clayton started hitting him on his face and neck. He admitted to knowing there was a handgun in the nightstand next to the bed and told police, “I shot her, man.” He reportedly grabbed the gun from the nightstand, pushed Clayton down, and shot her. Yerkes said they had been in a dating relationship for two months.

Sitka police are still investigating, receiving assistance from the Alaska State Troopers Bureau of Investigation Crime Scene Unit.

Yerkes’ case will be prosecuted further at a hearing on Tuesday. Superior Court Judge David George will preside.

In a comment on the Sitka Police Department’s Facebook page, Sitkans Against Family Violence wrote, “Our sincerest condolences go out to the family of the victim and to all who have been impacted by this tragedy.”

SAFV has additional advocates staffing the phone lines and invite anyone affected to reach out. They can be reached at 907-747-3370 or through their 24-hour crisis line at 1-800-478-6511. Additional resources can be found at their website: http://www.safv.org/.