Sitka man indicted on three counts of murder in girlfriend’s death

Ali Clayton, age 28, died on Saturday (05-06-18). A graduate of Sitka High, she spent nearly a decade working at Harris Air. Clayton’s boyfriend of two months, 39-year-old Reuben Yerkes, was charged with murder in the first degree after he told police he shot her. (Photo courtesy of Scott Harris/2012)

A Juneau grand jury on Wednesday indicted a Sitka man on three counts of murder, in the shooting death of his girlfriend last weekend.

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The Juneau grand jury charged 39-year-old Reuben Yerkes with one count of murder in the first degree, and two counts of murder in the second degree, for allegedly killing 28-year-old Ali Clayton in her Sitka apartment early in the morning of Saturday, May 6.

The three different charges stem from causing the death of Clayton and from Yerkes’ intent in the view of the grand jury. In the two second-degree counts, the jury alleges that Yerkes intended to cause serious physical injury to another person “knowing that the conduct was substantially certain to cause death,”  and that he engaged in conduct “under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to the value of human life.”

If convicted, Yerkes could be sentenced to serve up to 99 years in prison.

Yerkes last appeared in court in Sitka on Wednesday afternoon, while attorneys for his defense and for the state outlined a proposed agreement over how evidence collected at the crime scene would be handled. Public defender Jude Pate argued that Clayton’s body was released from the State Medical Examiner’s office before the defense had the opportunity to arrange an independent examination. Prosecutor Angie Kemp, with the Juneau District Attorney’s office, agreed to hold off on any testing of blood or other evidence — which might be destroyed in the testing process — for 30 days, to give the defense adequate time to arrange its own testing.

Reuben Yerkes turned himself into the Sitka Police Department early in the morning of Saturday, May 6. He remains in custody in the Sitka Jail pending his arraignment.