Wasilla man convicted in first-ever killing of trooper dog

Alaska State Trooper K9 Helo, killed in the line of duty in 2016, and handler Trooper Christopher Havens. (Alaska Department of Public Safety photo)

A jury has convicted a Wasilla man in the fatal 2016 shooting of an Alaska State Trooper dog, the first to be killed in the line of duty.

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K9 Helo, a Belgian Malinois was chasing Almando Abarca after Abarca led troopers on a high-speed chase. Troopers say Abarca ditched his car near where the Parks and Glenn highways meet and ran into a wooded area, where he shot Helo multiple times. Troopers returned fire and hit Abarca once.

The jury on Wednesday found Abarca, now 27, guilty of killing a police dog, as well as attempted murder, assault and failure to stop at the direction of a police officer.

Palmer Assistant District Attorney Shawn Traini said the jury heard testimony from troopers Jared Noll and Christopher Havens, Helo’s handler.

“Trooper Noll had to grab Helo and race Helo to the hospital as Helo’s dying in front of him, and when he testified before the jury, he certainly was very emotional,” Traini said. “And Trooper Havens, who was Helo’s partner for several years, that was hard on him, to have to relive what was a very scary and emotional night for him.”

Abarca faces up to four years behind bars for shooting Helo and up to four years for each assault and failure to stop conviction. He also faces between five and 99 years for the attempted murder conviction.

Abarca’s sentencing is set for May.