Police discovered a marijuana grow operation as they responded to a domestic violence call at a Juneau home in the 4300 block of Windfall Avenue Tuesday evening.
Juneau Police Department spokesman Lt. David Campbell said investigators seized 55 pot plants, grow equipment and 10 guns from the residence, which is owned by a 60-year-old local woman.
No arrests have been made in the drug case and the investigation is ongoing, Campbell said.
The man arrested for assaulting his girlfriend, 31-year-old Robert “Bob” Smith Huber, tipped police off to the operation. After Huber was handcuffed, he apparently became upset and told officers that the woman whose house he was staying in had a grow operation in one of her bedrooms.
Huber and his girlfriend are homeless and have been staying with the woman for the past two months, court documents show. Police did not release the homeowner’s name, but she is identified in court documents as Bonnie Odom. Odom did not return phone calls seeking comment on Wednesday.
“While I wasn’t there for this case, I know from my experience that it’s not unusual when a person gets arrested and they’re upset, they will often times say things about the other person involved and try to get them in trouble as well,” Campbell said in a phone interview Wednesday.
Police usually take such tips with a “grain of salt,” but they follow up on them anyway, Campbell said. In this case, police returned to the residence to contact the homeowner after Huber was taken to jail.
Campbell said the homeowner consented to a search and the officers found the operation exactly where Huber had pointed them. Investigators with the JPD drug unit were then called in and seized the evidence.
The homeowner was not arrested at the scene because police are still piecing their case together in case it goes before a grand jury, Campbell said.
Investigators are still in the process of drying out the plants at the police station evidence room, where they will then be separated and weighed. The aggregate weight of the drugs will likely come into play in the courtroom because it is illegal to possess more than four ounces of marijuana, Campbell said. He noted it’s also illegal under Alaska law to possess more than 25 marijuana plants.
“She was not arrested, and it’s not uncommon when we have a situation like this,” Campbell said. “The drug investigators typically will work very closely with the District Attorney’s office and a decision will be made at that (later) point at time.”
In the domestic violence case, Huber was originally arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor assault, but District Attorney James Scott raised that charge to the felony level, citing the seriousness of the offense. Huber is facing one count of third-degree assault, a class ‘C’ felony that can carry up to five years in prison.
During Huber’s arraignment in court Wednesday afternoon, Scott said police found the 43-year-old victim curled up in the fetal position in a bathtub inside the Windfall Avenue residence after police received a 911 hang up call at about 7:20 p.m.
According to an affidavit, the victim reported to police that during an argument Huber grabbed her by the shirt, pulled her into the bathroom, covered her nose and mouth so she couldn’t breathe and poured vodka over her. The affidavit states she was able to knock the bottle out of Huber’s hands, but at that point Huber grabbed her by the throat and choked her until she passed out. She remained in the bathroom until police arrived on scene.
Huber denied those allegations during his contact with police officers at the house.
Juneau District Court Judge Thomas Nave set Huber’s bail at $20,000. He is next slated to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on the Nov. 15, although that hearing will be vacated if an indictment is issued beforehand.
Scott noted that Huber has a prior felony conviction and might still be on probation for burning down a historic church in Juneau back in March 2006. The loss of the 110-year-old Holy Trinity Episcopal Church on Gold Street, the second oldest church building in Juneau, was a significant loss for the community, especially since the fire also destroyed the adjoining church hall (McPhetres Hall) and a neighboring house and boat. The church’s congregation raised $1 million and rebuilt it in late 2009 in the same location.
Then 25 years old, Huber pleaded guilty to first-degree arson and was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison with seven years suspended and 10 years probation. He also was ordered to pay $4 million in restitution, which Scott said Huber is still paying off.
Scott said he was not sure if Huber’s 10-year probation was cut short or not, but that if Huber is still on probation, he could be charged with breaking it. That means Huber could potentially be required to serve his suspended prison sentence.
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at email@example.com.
Editor’s Note: The Empire incorrectly reported that Robert “Bob” Smith Huber was sentenced to eight years in prison with seven years suspended for first-degree arson for burning down a historical church in Juneau in March 2006. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison with seven years suspended, which is eight years to serve.