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AG: Mistake made in murder suspect's past case

Posted: June 7, 2013 - 12:09am

ANCHORAGE — Alaska Attorney General Michael Geraghty acknowledged Thursday that prosecutors, corrections officials and a sentencing judge made a mistake in assessing the criminal history of murder suspect Jerry Andrew Active before he was sentenced in a 2009 felony case.

Active, 24, was released on probation May 25. Anchorage police say he entered a home that night, murdered an elderly couple and molested their 2-year-old great-granddaughter. He’s being held on murder and sexual assault counts in the beating deaths of Sorn Sreap, 73, who also was sexually assaulted, and her husband, Touch Chea, 71.

A review of Active’s criminal history, Geraghty said, detected that prosecutors mistakenly thought Active had no prior felony convictions when he was sentenced in 2009 for attempted sexual abuse of a minor. However, Active since January 2009 had been out of state custody fewer than 30 days, Geraghty said. His multiple probation violations, Geraghty said, were connected to alcohol abuse and no one could have foreseen that his release would have resulted in two deaths and two sexual assaults.

“We cannot predict people’s behavior,” he said. “The only prior sexually related offense committed by Mr. Active was the 2009 incident. I do not believe it is reasonable to suggest that his prior criminal history was a precursor or predictive of the horrendous crimes he is alleged to have committed on May 25.”

As a juvenile, Active was convicted for driving while intoxicated, the attorney general said.

Active had a major brush with the law in November 2007 at the age of 18 when he was charged in Togiak with burglary, criminal mischief and providing stolen alcohol to minors.

Providing alcohol to minors generally is a misdemeanor, Geraghty said, but becomes a felony in a local option community with restrictions on alcohol possession or sales.

Active agreed to probation and a suspended imposition of sentence in the case. For future sentencing, however, Active should have had a felony strike against him, Geraghty said.

Active was arrested by Alaska State Troopers in January 2009 in Togiak. Investigators said he touched the legs and [filtered word] area of an 11-year-old girl through her clothing. When she screamed, the girl’s brother and mother came to her aid and Active assaulted them, investigators said.

As part of a plea agreement, Active pleaded guilty to charges that included attempted sexual abuse of a minor. He was sentenced to seven years in prison with four suspended plus 185 days for counts of assault and criminal trespass. It could have been longer if his prior felony for furnishing alcohol to minors had been considered, the attorney general said.

“He was in fact subject to a presumptive sentencing term of eight to 15 years, and not the two to 12 years as the plea agreement assumed,” Geraghty said.

Prosecutors relied on the Alaska Public Safety Information Network, a state data base, to determine Active’s prior record, Geraghty said.

Active in November 2012 and again on Feb. 21 was charged in Anchorage with violating his probation. Both incidents were connected to consuming alcohol. In the first, he was charged with assault and interfering with a police officer. In the second, he was stopped after a fight. He was sentenced to 120 days for the first incident and 150 days in the second.

Anchorage Police Department investigators say Active the night of his latest release May 25 climbed through an open window into a first-floor apartment shared by Sreap, Touch, their grandson and his wife and two children, and the younger couple’s 93-year-old great-grandmother.

The grandson and his wife came home to find Sreap and Touch beaten to death. They found Active naked in a bedroom with their daughter. A fight ensued. Active was arrested about a block from the scene. Investigators said the toddler had been sexually abused and required surgery.

Geraghty said the case will be reviewed with senior managers and legislators to make sure mistakes are not repeated. He said he already had ordered a review of plea negotiation policies, especially for domestic violence and sexual assault cases.

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