Press Release

Senior Assistant District Attorney Richard Svobodny Secures 1st Degree Murder Verdict in Matthew Owens Trial

December 6, 2005

(Anchorage) – After three days of deliberation and six weeks of trial a Kotzebue jury convicted Matthew C. Owens today of murder in the first degree and tampering with evidence in the death of Sonya Ivanoff.

"I want to personally thank Rick Svobodny and his excellent team for their dedication and perseverance in obtaining justice for Sonya Ivanoff," said Attorney General David Márquez. "Over the course of two trials, and over three months of testimony Rick's team handled this matter professionally, with sensitivity to Sonya's family and the community, and under the close scrutiny of the media and the people of this state."

Owens, a former Nome police officer, shot and killed Ivanoff on August 11, 2003. This matter went to trial on two separate occasions. The first trial ended in a hung jury.

"Today's verdict was a result of a tremendous effort on behalf of the department of law and our Alaska State Troopers. Colonel Julia Grimes and the troopers truly went that extra mile to bring about today's success," said Svobodny. "I also need to acknowledge the tremendous help I received from the prosecutors, paralegals, investigators and legal assistants who advised and assisted in these efforts over a long period of time. These individuals include John Earthman and John Vacek, both prosecutors for the state of Alaska, Eric Burroughs, with the Alaska Bureau of Investigation, Maureen Koesuna and Christine Oles, legal assistants for the department of law, and Carrie Hulse, my paralegal."

The parties will meet on next week to schedule a sentencing date. Based on the convictions returned today, Owens could receive up to 99 years for the murder conviction and an additional five years for the tampering conviction.

Now that Svobodny has concluded this case he will begin to prepare for his new assignment as the state's first cold case prosecutor.

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