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18-year-old quadruple murder suspect was accused of multiple assaults on family since July

Published: Dec. 3, 2020 at 9:47 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A Wasilla teenager accused of murdering four of his own relatives refused to participate in his telephonic arraignment, but after rescheduling twice, the courts move forward with the hearing for Malachi Maxon, 18, on the phone Thursday.

“He doesn’t want to answer, your honor, but he’s right here,” a voice from inside the Mat-Su Pretrial facility told the judge at the beginning of the hearing.

Maxon is accused of shooting and killing his cousin, Cody Roehl, 18, his aunt, Kimora Buster, 43, and two of Buster’s children: Sienna Buster, 10, and Ellison Buster, 7.

The children were found shot to death in their beds Monday morning. Investigators believe Maxon attempted to kill a six-year-old who was found uninjured, but missed.

Court records show Maxon is charged in open cases from July, October and November, all alleging prior assaults on family members. He had been released from jail on an electronic monitor and pretrial supervision just a week before the murders.

Quadruple murder case

According to an affidavit written by an Alaska State Trooper, AST got a call at 3:13 a.m. Monday about a possible suicide at an address in Wasilla. Troopers responded and found Roehl had been shot but was still alive. He was transported to the hospital where he later died of his injuries.

The affidavit states an individual identified by the initials CR told troopers that Maxon had been in the home with Roehl when CR went to bed. CR revealed that Maxon and Roehl were cousins, and said he was not aware of any verbal or physical altercation between any member of the family.

Maxon, a white Jeep Liberty, and a semi-automatic Glock pistol with a loaded magazine that belonged to CR were missing from the home and surveillance footage showed the vehicle leaving around 3:05 a.m., according to the document.

Troopers reviewed court records and discovered Maxon had been arrested for a family assault and was released from jail on electronic monitoring with the Pretrial Enforcement Division.

Using information transmitted from the device, investigators were able to learn Maxon was at a home on N. Valley Way in Palmer at 3:55 a.m., around the same time that the Palmer Police Department started receiving calls about shots fired at the residence.

According to the affidavit, PPD officers arrived at the home and found someone had broken in through a basement window. Inside, Kimora Buster and two of her children had been fatally shot. A 6-year-old identified by the initials AB was found in bed with Ellison Buster and uninjured.

“The scene revealed spent cartridge casings outside the broken front window, and the number of bullets fired at each person appeared to be about the same, with the exception of Ellison,” AST wrote. “In the bed where Ellison and AB were found, there were several more bullet defects that there were with the other bodies. Maxon likely fired more shots in an attempt to hit AB, who was sleeping near the wall.”

Around 4:07 a.m. Monday morning, troopers pulled Maxon over in the stolen vehicle on the Glenn Highway near Mirror Lake, according to AST.

The affidavit states Maxon attempted to escape while he was being transferred from one location to another. He allegedly tried to get to nearby trees, grabbed an officer and attempted to take a trooper’s holster.

In the Nov. 30 murder case, Maxon faces four counts of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree attempted murder, one count of second-degree theft, one count of first-degree vehicle theft, one count of third-degree assault, and first-degree attempted escape.

‘I was scared he was going to hit me’

On July 22, Maxon’s stepfather called troopers to report Maxon for erratic, violent behavior. According to an affidavit from the responding trooper, Maxon was upset when he learned his parents had called law enforcement. The trooper described Maxon as difficult to understand and possibly impaired.

“Malachi stated there were people that are going to come to his house and rob him and kill him,” the trooper wrote. “When I asked further detail on this, he did not know who they were and said they were coming.”

Maxon’s stepfather reported Maxon had tried to get the phone away from him when Maxon realized he was contacting authorities. He speculated that Maxon might have a mental illness or use drugs.

Maxon’s mother reported Maxon had “grabbed her mouth from the back,” and took her phone, but said she was not hurt. She said Maxon used “dabs.”

Maxon was charged with fourth-degree assault and interfering with a report of a crime involving domestic violence.

On Oct. 8, Maxon’s stepfather contacted troopers again. He reported Maxon broke a phone, a mirror and a TV, and kicked him twice in the center of his chest, according to an affidavit written by the responding trooper.

The trooper contacted Pretrial Supervision and learned Malachi was still on conditions of release from the July 22 incident, and was in violation of those conditions by returning to the residence.

Maxon was charged with criminal mischief, fourth-degree assault and violation of conditions of release.

Then, on Nov. 11, Maxon’s grandmother called AST to report Maxon was acting violently toward her son.

According to an affidavit written by responding troopers, Maxon’s grandmother reported he was sleeping on her couch, then started acting aggressively when he woke up. She was concerned enough to ask her son to come and get Maxon.

“He has had a recent history of being assaultive and I was scared he was going to hit me,” the woman told troopers, according to the affidavit.

The woman’s son told troopers that he came to pick up Maxon at his mother’s request. Once inside his truck, he said Maxon started hitting him, ripping his earring out of his ear, tearing his coat and breaking plastic in his truck.

Maxon was arrested again and charged with two counts of fourth-degree assault and criminal mischief.

Online court records show his mother paid his bail after his arrests in October and November.

Custody history

According to the Department of Corrections, Maxon was arrested and released onto pretrial supervision three times between July 22 and Nov. 30, the day of the murders.

A week prior, on Nov. 23., he started pretrial supervision.

“We picked him up from the facility and transported him to our office where he was installed on the electronic monitoring equipment as was Court ordered. He was required to check in once per month. His last UA was during a previous release in August and he was negative for controlled substances,” DOC spokesperson Sarah Gallagher wrote in an email.

Gallagher said the Pretrial Enforcement Division did not have the legal authority to check the homes Maxon was staying at for weapons, because he was not found to be in violation of his conditions of release.

“While on pretrial, Mr. Maxon was in compliance with all conditions of his release, to include not having contact with alleged victim(s), not possessing/consuming controlled substances and submitting to UA as recommended by his PED officer,” Gallagher wrote. “Electronic monitoring with exclusion zones were ordered following his November 1, 2020 arrest. Neither of the addresses of the alleged homicides were part of his exclusion zones (a location the defendant was prohibiting from entering).”

Seven days after his third release, troopers worked with the PED to track Maxon’s electronic monitor and arrest him in connection with the four murders.

Grieving families

During Maxon’s telephonic arraignment on Friday, Beverly Richerson, the children’s grandmother, told the judge she did not want to see Maxon released again.

“I do not want him out. I want my grandson protected,” she said, referring to the 6-year-old child who investigators believe Maxon attempted to kill.

Family members of the surviving child and his father, Richerson’s son, called the shootings tragic on a fundraising page set up online, writing, “Our family is grieving with them and can’t imagine what they’re going through.” A second fundraising page requests help for both the Roehl and Buster families’ funeral expenses.

Kimora Buster’s longtime friend recalled how her children were her world.

“She’s got this just glowing personality and this huge beaming smile ... just full of love,” said Kim Thorp. “I mean, that was her name, her name was Kimora Love, you know, and that’s just who she was. She was just an essence of happiness and joyfulness, and she had this undying love for her children that she would talk about all the time.”

Bail: $10 million

Palmer prosecutor Melissa Howard argued Maxon should not be granted bail during Thursday’s hearing, citing the nature of the alleged crimes, Maxon’s previous arrests on assault charges, the alleged escape attempt and an alleged assault on a corrections officer since his arrest on Monday.

“So basically, every chance the defendant gets, he fights law enforcement and attempts to run and he basically has nothing to lose at this point, so he’s an extreme danger to his family, an extreme danger to the community, and the state’s position is no amount of bail is gonna assure his appearance or protect the victims or the community,” Howard said.

If bail must be set, Howard said the state’s request was $10 million in cash.

A public defender on the line called the state’s request for no bail illegal, and contrary to the Alaska Constitution, but said the second request was reasonable.

Maxon’s bail is set at $10 million in the murder case. His next court hearing is scheduled for Dec. 17.

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