FAIRBANKS, Alaska — A Fairbanks jury will hear opening arguments and testimony in the trial of an Alaska man charged with killing a woman in North Pole.

The murder trial for Zachary Whisenhunt begins Monday. Whisenhunt is charged with killing Jenessa French Kempski on Oct. 23, 2014, the day she went missing.

Kempski’s remains were found in the North Pole area 12 days later, but her cause of death has not been revealed, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports (http://bit.ly/2tR6RiR).

Whisenhunt was indicted May 27, 2016, on one count of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and one count of evidence tampering.

According to the indictment, Whisenhunt “destroyed, mutilated, altered, suppressed concealed or removed physical evidence” in an attempt to hinder the investigation.

At the time of his indictment for Kempski’s murder, Whisenhunt was awaiting resolution of an October 2015 felony case in which he was charged with fleeing from Fairbanks police after they tried to stop him for expired tags.

Whisenhunt finally was stopped in North Pole after spike strips were deployed, but he fled from the scene into a wooded area.

Whisenhunt was apprehended and taken into custody after a brief struggle, according to the criminal complaint.

A search revealed Whisenhunt was wearing a Kevlar vest and carrying a loaded Heckler & Koch .40-caliber handgun and was in possession of heroin and methamphetamine.

Whisenhunt pleaded guilty Dec. 21, 2016, to driving under the influence and drugs and weapons charges.

Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.