FAIRBANKS — A jury convicted a 77-year-old man of assault after he put up almost no defense against accusations that he fired gunshots at two Alaska State Troopers during a confrontation last year.
Stanley Pieniazek, of Fairbanks, was the only defense witness to take the stand in the half-day trial. He briefly spoke in Polish, his first language, before declining to answer questions from his lawyer.
Prosecutors, meanwhile, called four witnesses — all Alaska state troopers — to describe the incident in which no one was hurt but many shots were exchanged on a side street northeast of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Pieniazek had a reputation for trespassing and refusing to leave the homes of his neighbors on Madcap Lane. One of the troopers called to investigate a disturbance in May 2012 testified that he went into a small truck camper and found the elderly man on his back pointing a handgun at him, according to court log notes of the trial.
The trooper who investigated the ensuing exchange of gunfire said 20 shots were fired — 17 by the troopers and three from Pieniazek’s .25-caliber pistol.
The jury took about two hours to convict Pieniazek.
Superior Court Judge Michael McConahy deemed Pieniazek mentally competent to stand trial earlier this summer.
At Pieniazek’s competency hearing, two guards from the Fairbanks Correctional Center said he is known for being selectively communicative, able to have short conversations in English on good days but at other times only yelling in Polish, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported. They said he had only one visitor, a guest from the Polish consulate that he refused to see.
Pieniazak moved from Poland to Alaska around 1970 and become a U.S. citizen. He is scheduled to be sentenced in January.