Nowatak Indicted For Murder

May 23, 2013

Brenda Nowatak, 24, has been indicted for her role in causing the death of Trefim Wassillie, Jr, 25, last September near Kokhanok.

DILLINGHAM:  A grand jury has indicted Brenda Nowatak, 24, of Kokhanok on murder and manslaughter charges for the death of Trefim Wassillie, Jr., 25. The Disctrict Attorney's office in Anchorage made the announcement Thursday.

Wassillie's mother found his body floating face down in Lake Iliamna on September 16, 2012.

The Village Public Safety Officer contacted the Alaska State Troopers, who began their investigation the next day when high winds allowed air travel to the village. No arrests were made at the time.

Following their investigation, the Troopers allege that Wassillie was a passenger on an ATV driven by Nowatak. Believed to have been under the influence of alcohol at the time, Nowatak crashed into a tree stump, causing Wassillie to fly off the ATV. 

An autopsy determined drowning and blunt force trauma to the head to be the cause of death.

Nowatak is indicted on murder in the second degree, manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident, and driving under the influence. According to the indictment, she engaged in conduct that resulted in Wassillie's death "under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to the value of human life."

Nowatak could face a maximum sentence of 99 years in prison if convicted.

A warrant for her arrest has been issued, and bail was set at $10,000.