Jury Finds Simeon Not Guilty of Manslaughter

by Ben Matheson on April 23, 2014

Philip Simeon Jr. testifies in Bethel Court. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

Philip Simeon Jr. testifies in Bethel Court. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

A Bethel jury found Philip Simeon not guilty of manslaughter Tuesday night. The 27-year-old Aniak resident faced charges for allegedly driving his snowmachine while intoxicated and fatally striking his brother Dakota Nicholi.

Simeon was found to be not guilty on all four counts: manslaughter, third degree assault, and two charges for driving under the influence.

In his closing argument Tuesday afternoon, Prosecutor Daniel Doty made the case that Simeon was wreckless in his decisions leading up to the crash.

“Nobody is arguing that Philip Simeon had time to react. He should had not been on the snowmachine the first place if he had not made the choices he had made to drink alcohol, get on the snowmachine, and go skimming, he would not have hit anybody,” said Doty.

In his closing argument, defense attorney Terrence Haas characterized the death as a family and community tragedy. He denied that the state had any proof of Simeon being impaired from alcohol at the time of the accident.

“…and all the proof in the world that he was not impaired. There is no proof about Simeon’s state of mind about the throttle other than what we offered you,” said Haas.

An Anchorage snow machine mechanic declared the snowmachine was “100% unsafe to ride”, due to a sticky throttle and a non-functional safety shut off. 15-year-old Dakota Nicholi was stuck and killed after Simeon lost control of his machine with a stuck throttle. His machine lifted up after hitting an embankment after skipping water. The accident happened a year ago Friday.

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