A Juneau man wiped away tears with his shackled hands as his attorney entered a not guilty plea on a charge of second-degree murder in Juneau Superior Court on Thursday.
Ryan West, 25, entered the plea through his attorney David Seid before Judge Philip Pallenberg in an arraignment hearing. The charges stem from a single-vehicle crash that resulted in the death of 19-year-old passenger Gabriel Carte.
The indictment stated that on June 6, West knowingly engaged in conduct that resulted in the death of Carte under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to the value of human life.
The charge is an unclassified felony and carries a possible penalty of 10 – 99 years in jail and a $500,000 fine. A two-week trial was scheduled to begin Dec. 5. A pretrial hearing is set for Nov. 17 and an omnibus hearing for Oct. 4.
The case was formally assigned to retired Judge Patricia Collins and will be appointed to incoming Judge Louis Menendez.
The District Attorney’s Office also filed an amended second petition to revoke West’s probation from a Feb. 2009 case involving assault, robbery, and theft charges stemming from an incident that resulted in an injury to a 19-year-old woman. That woman was seriously injured when she was dragged by West’s truck.
The first petition to revoke probation hearing was held on June 9, three days after the crash that took the life of Carte. Also on the court calendar that day, a trial call for Carte on charges of theft in the second degree was vacated. Carte’s case was closed on June 8. On Thursday, Pallenberg vacated West’s disposition hearing set for Sept. 6.
District Attorney David Brower asked for a cash performance bail of $500,000 for West due to his failure to render assistance in the prior case and having numerous violations while being out on parole.
Seid stated they reserved a right to a full bail hearing because, until recently, West was out, and “We were all well aware this was lurking around.” Seid asked for the current bail of $50,000 to remain as West has been unable to meet it.
Pallenberg said given the nature and seriousness of the charge, bail would be set concurrently on both cases in the amount of $500,000, half appearance and half performance.
“The amount of the bail is high not only because of the nature of this offense but because of the nature of the previous offense in that it involved a person who was very seriously injured as a result of the operation of Mr. West’s vehicle,” Pallenberg said. “That fact warrants setting the bail in the amount significantly larger than it would have been even if we were dealing only with the current offense, as serious as that is.”
• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.