A former prosecutor with the Alaska Department of Law has been suspended from the practice of law for 18 months, according to a memorandum released by the Alaska Bar Association in July. KTUU reports that seasoned prosecutor and former Deputy Attorney General Patrick Gullufsen was reported to the Bar Association’s Board of Governors after Superior Court Judge Anna Moran found that he had “blatantly lied” about the forensic analysis of DNA evidence in one of his cold cases, withholding exculpatory forensic evidence from the court and defense attorneys.
The cold case involved the 1982 death of Toni Lister in Seward, AK. Jimmy Eacker was a suspect in the case at the time of her murder, but wasn’t tried until 2010 after an evidence custodian came across DNA evidence from the case in 2006 and submitted it for testing. Gullufsen used that DNA evidence to suggest to the jury that blood and semen from the crime scene proved Eacker’s guilt.
However, Gullufsen did not disclose that he had been advised by an expert that the evidence was not reliable due to the age of the DNA and the way it had been stored. It was contaminated by a male technicians DNA; and, even more concerning, the biological profile did not match Eacker’s. Gullufsen failed to disclose this information to Eacker’s attorney, instead telling the court that the laboratory “had not finished its testing, that it was an ongoing project and it was doubtful the State was going to have anything ‘by the end of today, end of tomorrow, end of this week, whenever.'”
Once the evidence was uncovered, Judge Moran found that Gullufsen had conducted himself with “flagrant, reckless or negligent disregard of the State’s obligation under the Alaska Constitution” and threw out Eacker’s conviction in early 2011. Gullufsen said he failed to disclose the evidence “out of confusion.”
Now, three years into his retirement, Gullufsen has been suspended from practicing law in a ruling rarely made by the Alaska Bar Association. He has admitted to “misleading the court” in the Eacker case and did not protest the disciplinary action taken against him.
The Alaska Department of Law told the Alaska Dispatch that it was still digesting the Bar Association’s report to determined whether “additional corrective steps are warranted,” such as the review of other cases prosecuted by Gullufsen.
Eacker pled to the lesser charge of manslaughter in late 2010 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, with an additional 10 years probation.