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Big Lake pastor indicted in shootings


Anchorage Daily News

(Published: June 12, 2003)
A grand jury has indicted Big Lake pastor Phillip Mielke on two counts of manslaughter and two counts of criminally negligent homicide. Mielke shot and killed two men he caught burglarizing the Big Lake Community Chapel in the predawn dark on April 24. Chris Palmer, 31, was found dead near the chapel. Frank Jones, 23, died about seven hours later at a nearby friend's home.

Autopsy reports show both men had been shot in the back, according to Palmer District Attorney Roman Kalytiak. The grand jury's decision became public Thursday, when Palmer Superior Court Judge Beverly Cutler set Mielke's arraignment for Friday morning. Jurors heard from nine witnesses, but not from Mielke, who did not volunteer to testify, Kalytiak said. A trial could be as much as a year away.

Mielke has said that he was investigating the chapel after an alarm signaled, and that he encountered the two men coming up the stairs from the basement. He had armed himself with what his lawyer said was a .44 Magnum revolver.

Mielke has said he feared for his life. The district attorney has said he has seen no evidence Jones nor Palmer were armed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Pastor Acquitted

Big Lake minister acquitted of manslaughter charge
Jury deliberates for day and a half in church shooting case

http://adn.com/front/story/4260977p-4271781c.html
The Associated Press

(Published: October 27, 2003)

The Rev. Phillip Mielke during his testimony Wednesday in Palmer Superior Court.

A preacher was acquitted Monday of two counts of manslaughter and two counts of criminally negligent homicide in the shooting deaths of two intruders at his Big Lake Community Chapel last spring.

Jurors deliberated for a day and a half in Superior Court before acquitting the Rev. Phillip D. Mielke, 44, in the deaths of Christopher Lee Palmer, 31, of Big Lake and Francis Marion Jones IV, 23, of Wasilla.

"We're relieved," Jim Gilmore, Mielke's defense lawyer, said after the verdicts were read.

Mielke had no comment.

Palmer and Jones were burglarizing the chapel at about 5 a.m. April 24 when Mielke heard a noise over a homemade intercom system that linked the church to his home, across the road.

He got his .44-caliber Magnum revolver and went to investigate.

The three men ended up together in a small, dark arctic entry.

Mielke testified that he ordered the men to stop and then fired when they kept coming.

He told investigating troopers that he saw one of the intruders get up and run toward a parked, idling car outside the church.

Palmer was found dead on a road near the church. He had been shot once in the lower back.

Several hours later, a woman called 911 to report that Jones had been shot and was at her house. When investigators arrived, they found him dead with a gunshot wound to the back and the left ankle.

In closing arguments last Thursday, Gilmore characterized Mielke as a mild-mannered man who carried a gun for self-defense. The preacher used it in a "totally unexpected, out-of-control" situation when Palmer and Jones rushed him inside his own church, he said.

"It was like a bear charging," Gilmore said. "The critical feature of this event (is) it happened in a matter of seconds ... and it happened in the dark. ... His fear that caused him to pull the trigger was reasonable under the circumstances."

If Mielke was acting in self-defense, why did he empty his gun out a window as the mortally wounded Jones fled toward his car, Collins asked in closing arguments.

"Once he started shooting, he couldn't stop shooting," Collins said. "This is the act of someone who isn't going to let them get away."

The burglars were stealing donated food the church planned to give away, Collins said.

"You don't take a gun to protect some old doughnuts," he said. "Those are not the actions of a reasonable person."
 
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