READY TO HANG – Instructor Franco Zacha, a Brooklyn based artist/illustrator, looks over the work of Sitka Fine Arts Camp students putting the final touches on their gauche paintings this morning. Students will show their work at an opening in Yaw Art Center on the SJ campus Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Students pictured in foreground are Kai Thomas, 17, from Anchorage and Audrey Mack, 17, of Seattle, far right. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson) 

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Daily Sitka Sentinel

Sitka Man Charged With Murder



Sentinel Staff Writers

A Sitka man was charged with first-degree murder after he told police he shot his girlfriend after an argument early this morning.

Reuben A. Yerkes, 39, was arraigned on the murder charge and ordered held on $500,000 bail after a teleconference arraignment at noon today. The weekend on-call magistrate, Elaine Jack, presided by telephone from Angoon.


Reuben Yerkes (Photo Sitka Police Department)



Sitka police arrested Yerkes after he appeared at the police department at 3:05 a.m. today, telling police he had shot his girlfriend, police said. Officers went to the residence Yerkes shared with his girlfriend, identified as A.C. in court documents, and found her dead with gunshot wounds to her head.

The State Medical Examiner has identified the victim as 28-year-old Ali Nicole Clayton of Sitka, police said.

Yerkes is a paralegal with the City and Borough of Sitka legal department.

The police department’s charging document relayed what Yerkes told them after he showed up at the police department.

He told officers he had consumed a lot of alcohol Friday evening at a friend’s house, where he was with Clayton. He said they had been in an argument at the party, left in a taxi and continued the argument after arriving at their residence, 1601 Davidoff Street.

He said Clayton started hitting him in his face and neck, and argued about their relationship. He told police he knew there was a handgun in the bedroom nightstand, and said, “I shot her, man.”

Police responding to the Davidoff Street address found the body, a 9mm semi-automatic Glock pistol and two 9mm shell casings.

Magistrate Jack said she found probable cause for the charge of murder in the first degree.

Public Defender Jude Pate took part in the telephonic arraignment from the Sitka police station. He told the court that Yerkes had no prior criminal history and had turned himself in. He asked for bail to be set at $50,000 to $100,000. The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp, participating by phone from Juneau, asked bail to be set at $1 million.

“He represents a clear and present danger to the community,” Kemp said.

A plea of not guilty was entered for Yerkes, and another hearing was set for Tuesday at the courthouse.

If convicted of first degree murder Yerkes could be sentenced to 30 to 99 years in prison.

Sitka police are still investigating, with assistance from the Alaska State Troopers Bureau of Investigation Crime Scene Unit, city officials said. Investigators from the state crime lab in Anchorage arrived in Sitka this afternoon.

A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Tuesday at the Sitka courthouse with Superior Court Judge David George presiding.

An update on the police department's Facebook page this afternoon said: "The staff at the Sitka Police Department extends their deepest condolences to all that have been touched by this tragedy."


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July 2004 

Homes for sale: Stunning view, 4 bdrms., 3 baths, master suite,hardwood-laminate floors, new appliances $369,000; Three-level family home, apt. 3 bdrms., 2 kitchens, 13/4 baths, $232,000.


July 1974

    Lee Salisbury, speech and theater arts professor at the University of Alaska, will be drama instructor for grades 7-12 at the Regional Fine Arts Camp. The camp is sponsored by the Southeast Alaska Regional Arts Council and is held on the Sheldon Jackson College campus. Jim Hope is camp director.


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