Crime Scene

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Ax murderer to serve 35 years, DA says

A Chignik Lake man who beat a friend to death with an ax during a drunken argument over who was the better fisherman was sentenced this week to serve 35 years in prison, according to the Anchorage district attorney.

Edwin Pedersen, 25, in April pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the August 14, 2009, death of 22-year-old John Kalmakoff.

Prosecutors say Pedersen and Kalmakoff were lifelong friends who had just finished the commercial fishing season. They had been drinking at a Chignik Lake home last August when they got into the argument and Pedersen killed Kalmakoff by repeatedly hitting him in the head and face with the blunt end of the ax, district attorney Adrienne Bachman said in a statement.

At his sentencing Monday in Naknek, Pedersen told the judge and Kalmakoff’s family that what he had done was unforgivable, according to prosecutors. Pedersen said he was sorry and that knew he caused a lot of pain, but that he didn’t mean to kill Kalmakoff.

His family told the judge that they are still struggling with Kalmakoff’s death and that it has had a deep impact on them because he had two younger sisters and a close-knit extended family in several villages and communities in Bristol Bay.

Superior Court Judge Fred Torrisi noted the brutality of the murder and the fact that Pedersen has two prior misdemeanor convictions for assault in arriving at his sentence. He gave Pedersen 75 years in prison with 40 suspended, along with 10 years of probation.

The judge said Pedersen would not be a young man when released from prison, but that the 40 years of suspended time could be imposed if Pedersen engages in criminal activity.

Find James Halpin online at adn.com/contact/jhalpin or call him at 257-4589.

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