By Jefferson Robbins Wenatchee World
WATERVILLE — The trial of a Snohomish man accused of shooting a Lake Tapps man to death at Sun Cove could take two weeks when it begins in December.
College senior Oscar A. Alden, 24, is charged with second-degree murder in the June 9 death of former real estate agent Tom J. Maks, 34, after a get-together among high school friends ended with a bizarre confrontation in a vacation-home driveway.
Alden, who was freed from Okanogan County Jail in July on $250,000 bond, faces trial beginning Dec. 2. Witnesses told Douglas County sheriff’s deputies Alden shot Maks in the head while Maks was down on all fours, in the driveway of the home Alden and about 14 friends were sharing for the weekend.
In a filing with Douglas County Superior Court, Alden’s defense attorney said Maks was killed after a day and night of unpredictable behavior in which he approached the group without invitation; sought to buy or steal prescription drugs from them; traded a fistful of marijuana for handgun ammunition; and broke into the house screaming threats after the group accidentally abandoned him on a drinking excursion to Chelan.
Alden’s group spent the weekend at a house in the 100 block of Emerson Drive in Sun Cove, about six miles north of Daroga State Park — a second home owned by the father of one of Alden’s friends. The group was mostly former Snohomish High School classmates, who spent June 8 boating on the Columbia and having a barbecue.
Maks was visiting the house next door, owned by his father in Fife since 2008, but no one in Alden’s group knew him. Throughout the afternoon, witnesses said, Maks came and went from the house where Alden’s group was staying, at one point trading marijuana to one of Alden’s friends for eight rounds of .45-caliber pistol ammunition.
Later, Maks learned that Alden and another friend used prescription Adderall. He first offered to buy some tablets from them, then rifled through Alden’s backpack in search of the drugs after they refused, Alden’s attorney Max Harrison of Everett wrote in a court brief.
That night, the group drove three vehicles to a Chelan bar, with Maks riding along and Alden acting as one of the designated drivers, Harrison wrote. The group later left in a hurry after one of their number drunkenly stripped off his shirt and began running through Woodin Avenue traffic; Maks was left behind at the bar.
Maks returned to the Sun Cove house sometime after 3 a.m. June 9, when the occupants were asleep, and entered through a sliding door. Alden and other witnesses said Maks pushed over the reclining chair where Alden was sleeping and screamed threats at the residents over having been left in Chelan.
They convinced Maks to leave the house, at one point noticing he had a gun in his waistband, and called police. Maks returned shortly after 4 a.m., apparently unarmed, and fought with one of Alden’s friends, who punched him to the ground.
Alden had fetched his own pistol and now fired a single shot, killing Maks. Alden said Maks made “a furtive move” that led Alden to believe he was still a threat.
Maks, a father of two, was a commercial real estate agent until 2008 and a skilled downhill skier. He had no prior felony convictions in Washington, although court filings by his former wife beginning in 2012 accuse him of erratic behavior, domestic abuse and drug and alcohol addiction.
Witnesses said earlier on June 8, Maks fired off a gun from a friend’s front porch against his host’s wishes; and threw a wad of marijuana on the counter at a nearby local business and loudly invited a female employee to get high with him, in front of several customers.
Alden, a pre-med student in his senior year at Seattle Pacific University, has no criminal history. His mother is a nurse; his father, a Seattle physician, died in 2003 at age 76.
Harrison indicated in a court hearing Monday that he may pursue a strategy of self-defense at Alden’s trial. The maximum sentence in a second-degree murder conviction is about 18 years for a defendant with no priors. Alden’s charge carries a firearm enhancement, which could add five years’ imprisonment if he’s found guilty.