‘A prosecutor’s worst nightmare.’ Why the state dropped a prior charge against accused wife killer

Published: Mar. 22, 2017 at 5:48 PM AKDT
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This isn’t the first time someone has told an Anchorage judge that Adam Sullivan is a dangerous man.

“I know Adam Sullivan is unstable and prone to violence with little or no provocation,” wrote Kurt Roth, a family friend who obtained a restraining order against Sullivan in 2010.

Now 40, Sullivan kept out of trouble in recent years. That changed Dec. 20, when police say he rampaged through the home he shared with wife Brandy, destroying more than $1,000 in property. Prosecutors allowed those charges to be dropped on Jan. 18.

Less than a month later, Brandy was dead. Charges say Adam Sullivan shot and killed her at the home with the couple’s young daughters dialing 911 to report the slaying.

“This is sort of a prosecutor’s worst nightmare. That you have a chance to possibly intervene and maybe prevent something else from happening,” Anchorage District Attorney Clint Campion told KTUU this week.

Campion said he stands by the state’s decision to dismiss the December destruction of property charge against Sullivan.

Brandy’s sister, Tina Novotney, says Brandy had recently decided to separate from Adam. One of the couple’s daughters likely would have been a witness had the property damage case gone to trial, something Brandy wanted to avoid, her family said.

“If she didn’t want her daughter to be on trial as a witness against her dad ... all she had to do was tell them that, but they still should have been able to proceed forward," Novotney said. "It would have made a difference."

Campion said prosecutors made the right decision based on the evidence and circumstances of the case at the time.

"It wasn’t a situation where we immediately said we’re not going to prosecute it," he said. "I felt like we did our due diligence in reviewing the case. It wasn’t just his criminal history that was a factor, but it was probably a smaller factor than the fact that we just didn’t have comfort that we were going to be able to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. ... And that coupled with the victim’s input suggested that it was the right decision not to pursue it at the felony level."

Brandy Sullivan’s friends and family have circulated an online petition aimed at domestic violence law reform in Alaska. The details of such reform remain to be determined. Campion said he did not believe any gaps in existing state law contributed to Brandy Sullivan’s death.

Adam Sullivan has pleaded not guilty to homicide charges. His defense attorney recently filed paperwork asking the court for more time to consider a potential defense related to his mental state at the time of the killing.