State Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Man jailed for pointing gun at girl

FAIRBANKS - A North Pole man, frustrated by frequent intrusions onto private property in his rural neighborhood, had the right to investigate when he heard gunshots in the area last August, but went too far when he pointed a rifle at a 12-year-old girl on his neighbor's land, a Superior Court judge said.

David Stewart, 34, was sentenced Tuesday by Judge Charles Pengilly to three months in jail for a third-degree assault conviction stemming from the incident Aug. 7.

Stewart was charged with pointing a gun at the girl, who was part of a hunting party. The group was hunting under a pilot program allowing children to shoot moose when accompanied by an adult.

In a letter to the court, the girl wrote that she left the group to go back to the truck and take a nap when she encountered Stewart.

Prosecutors said Stewart was slashing a tire on the truck when the girl approached. He was charged initially with criminal mischief, but that charge was dropped in exchange for a plea of no contest to the third-degree assault charge.

Two of Stewart's neighbors testified that there have been frequent instances of people illegally hunting on their property.

Jennifer Hite, Stewart's public defender, said her client's actions were not justified, but were motivated mainly by his concern that a moose had been killed before hunting season.

She said Stewart, like many in the Interior, was not aware of the youth hunting program and he called Alaska State Troopers to report hearing gunshots.

Possible closing of school protested

ANCHORAGE - Seven residents of Trapper Creek picketed in front of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District headquarters in Palmer on Tuesday, protesting a possible closure of the community's elementary school.

"We're here to tell them we're just not going to allow that to happen," said parent Janet Flanders.

School district officials stressed that a decision to close Trapper Creek Elementary for financial reasons has not been made. If the school were closed, its nearly 30 students would be bused to Talkeetna elementary school.

The ride takes a minimum of 30 minutes one way, according to parents.

Busing students to Talkeetna would save the district more than $100,000, which would help the district close a $7 million deficit.

Troopers investigate connection between deaths

FORT YUKON - Alaska State Troopers said Tuesday they are investigating a connection between a weekend fatality and a suicide in Fort Yukon.

Calvin James, 49, of Fort Yukon was found dead early Saturday morning, apparently struck by a snowmachine. The unidentified driver fled the scene.

During the course of their investigation, officers found a red Polaris snowmachine, located behind a home, that had collision damage. While troopers were at the home, the homeowner entered and found a handwritten note written by Albert Carroll, 22. Troopers would not disclose the contents of the note but said it indicated Carroll was distraught.

Troopers followed a set of footprints leading into the woods and found Carroll dead of a single gunshot wound to the head.

Troopers are not saying if Carroll was responsible for James' death. Trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson said that, while the incidents appear to be connected, they cannot confirm that at this time. The investigation is continuing.

Hotel opens 10 months after fire

ANCHORAGE - Less than a year after a devastating fire, Aspen Hotels is opening a new hotel today in downtown Anchorage.

On April 9 a fire destroyed the hotel, which was under construction and just three months from opening. Damage was estimated at more than $5 million. No one was injured in the blaze.

The new 90-room hotel was built on the same downtown property.

Aspen Hotels of Alaska has four other hotels, one each in Fairbanks, Juneau, Soldotna and Valdez.

Neighbors to pay to clean up junkyard

FAIRBANKS - Neighbors of a junkyard are so fed up with the mess, they're taking up a collection to clean it up. They're asking borough taxpayers to pitch in as well.

The junkyard has been there for about eight years, according to a neighbor. Upward of 100 old cars and a few old buses sit on the approximately three-acre lot. Some people live in the buses.

The owner, Richard Bluel, has not followed borough code and court orders to put up a sight-obscuring fence, according to neighbors.

The Fairbanks North Star Borough has sued and obtained court permission to clean up the junkyard, but the cost is $30,000 and work has not begun.

Neighbors pledged to raise $10,000 toward cleanup, hoping to spur the borough to pay the rest.

Police say woman's death was homicide

ANCHORAGE - The death of the woman found Monday inside an East Anchorage trailer has been ruled a homicide, police said.

The woman, Martha A. Nick, 32, originally was from the village of Aniak in Southwest Alaska.

The woman was found inside a trailer at the Totem mobile home park, police said. A maintenance man had gone to do some work on the unit and found the victim inside along with a group of people who were "quite intoxicated," homicide detective Phil Brown said.

Police would not comment on the woman's cause of death. No arrests have been made. The death is the city's second homicide of 2003.

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