- Associated Press - Thursday, August 27, 2015

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - The sentencing hearing for a man convicted of evidence tampering in the deaths of two Alaska State Troopers will be continued next week.

The hearing for Arvin Kangas will resume next Thursday to give the judge time to consider objections from both sides to statements in the pre-sentence report. Kangas also wanted time to speak before sentencing, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported (https://is.gd/BWAcYE).

A jury in Nenana found Kangas guilty of tampering with the guns of Sgt. Scott Johnson and Trooper Gabe Rich after they were shot and killed in Tanana May 1, 2014. Kangas’ son, Nathanial, is charged with the troopers’ deaths, and his trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 9.

The troopers went to arrest the elder Kangas after he threatened the village public safety officer. Kangas resisted arrest, and authorities accuse Nathanial of killing both troopers with a rifle.

The elder Kangas was charged with moving the troopers’ guns to appear that they had drawn their weapons so the shooting looked like they were killed to protect the elder Kangas.

At Wednesday’s hearing, family members of the slain troopers spoke.

Johnson’s wife, Brandy, said she lost her best friend.

“I would like to be able to walk away from this but the matter of fact is Scott’s murder is my sentence for the rest of my life. Scott’s murder is the sentence for the rest of my children’s lives,” Brandy said.

The slain trooper’s father, Bud Johnson, said he decided against addressing Kangas because it would show respect and dignity.

“You deserve neither. My son showed you respect and tried to leave you with some dignity and you took advantage of it. I truly believe that you’re responsible for his death,” he said. “You should be on trial for murder.”

Rich’s biological mother, Mary Rogers, is a corporal in the Pennsylvania State Police. She testified by telephone that the two had only found each other seven months before his death, and Kangas robbed her the chance of seeing her son after 26 years.

“Because of him, I had to see Gabe for the first time in 26 years as he lay in a coffin, and for that I will never forgive him,” Rogers said.

She said Kangas has shown himself to be a “coward and a soulless human being,” who will ask for leniency when it comes time for a sentence.

“But what I want to know is, where was the compassion when Gabe was struggling to take his final breath?” Rogers said.

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