Gavin Sullivan Christiansen, a 41-year-old resident of Palmer who ran for State Senate in 2020, received a sentence of 25 years to serve for a fatal shooting incident that took place in October 2020.
The sentence was handed down by Superior Court Judge Kari Kristiansen. Christiansen will serve on felony probation after his release.
The charges brought against Christiansen included second-degree murder, misconduct involving weapons in the first degree, and three counts of assault in the third degree. A Palmer jury convicted him of these charges in March, leading to his sentencing this week.
The incident in question occurred on Oct. 11, 2020, when Christiansen contacted 911 to report a hit-and-run incident involving his vehicle near Mile 37 of Wasilla-Fishhook Road in Willow. However, the subsequent investigation revealed a much darker turn of events.
According to the investigation, Christiansen had been outside of his vehicle when his car was struck in the hit-and-run. Rather than simply reporting the incident and awaiting authorities, Christiansen allegedly fired approximately 15 shots at the departing vehicle before deciding to pursue it. The vehicle was being driven by 35-year-old Devin Moorhouse.
The pursuit continued for approximately five miles before Moorhouse lost control of his vehicle and ended up in a ditch, stranding him and his juvenile passenger. During this time, Christiansen made a declaration while on the phone with Matanuska-Susitna dispatch, stating, “I am about to shoot somebody.” He proceeded to fire several shots into Moorhouse’s vehicle, ultimately killing Moorhouse. Fortunately, the juvenile passenger emerged uninjured.
Christiansen claimed that Moorhouse had pointed a firearm at him as he approached the stranded vehicle. However, the subsequent investigation revealed that Moorhouse’s gun was not loaded, casting doubt on the self-defense argument put forth by Christiansen’s defense.
During the court proceedings in March, Palmer Assistant District Attorney Kerry Corliss emphasized that while Alaska does have a “stand your ground” self-defense law, it does not condone pursuing individuals.
Corliss argued that Christiansen had actively pursued Moorhouse for miles after firing at him, making it difficult to justify self-defense in this case. Corliss asserted that Moorhouse had the right to employ self-defense as he had clearly tried to disengage from the conflict by fleeing twice.