SUV crash trial delayed due to pandemic

The Alaska Courthouse in Cordova. (March 24, 2020) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

The trial of a Cordova man accused of manslaughter has been delayed due to the threat of the coronavirus. A Tuesday, March 24 pre-trial conference has been rescheduled for April 21, according to a statement published by court officials. The pre-trial conference is planned to be conducted by telephone.

Jesse James Jones, 50, of Cordova, was charged with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, driving under the influence, and misconduct involving weapons in the fourth degree after an Oct. 8 single-vehicle crash. Andrey Plisko, Jones’s passenger, was pronounced dead following the accident.

The April 21 conference may be subject to rescheduling should the coronavirus health emergency continue, according to the statement. A March 19 emergency order by the Supreme Court of Alaska mandated that court hearings be postponed as necessary in response to the spread of the coronavirus. The emergency order also relaxed rules allowing participation in court proceedings by telephone or videoconference, and authorized presiding judges to limit courtroom attendance to attorneys, parties and necessary witnesses.

Jones’s trial was initially scheduled to commence Dec. 9. However, delays have been issued to allow Jones’s lawyer, Moshe Zorea, to familiarize himself with the evidence and to resolve problems with case materials. At a Jan. 28 pre-trial conference, Judge Eric Aarseth granted a continuance until March 24 after Zorea alleged that police video recordings provided by the state did not have proper audio.