State Briefs

Posted: Friday, January 24, 2003

Vet says dogs were mistreated for months

SHELBY, Mont. - Dozens of dogs found in a tractor-trailer en route from Alaska to Arizona last fall when it was stopped at the Canadian border appeared to be suffering from months and maybe years of neglect and abuse, a veterinarian testified Thursday.

Coats were matted so badly on a number of the dogs that it was clear they suffered from years of inattention, said veterinarian Kelly Manzer of Great Falls. She said the emaciated condition of many of the collies began weeks and maybe months before animal cruelty defendants Jon Harman and Athena Lethcoe-Harman began their trip south from Nikiski, Alaska.

The couple has pleaded innocent to 181 counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals.

The ailing collie dogs and a few cats in Harmans' rig were found the night of Oct. 31 when the couple tried to enter the United States at the Sweet Grass port of entry.

Prosecutors planned to conclude their case today, when the Harmans' lawyer, Scott Albers, can begin presenting the defense.

Panel supports civil rights resolution

JUNEAU - The Juneau Human Rights Commission voted this week to endorse a resolution that would require law enforcement officials to report to the Juneau Assembly any actions taken locally under the federal Patriot Act.

Such actions include detainment, electronic surveillance, seizure of library or bookstore records, monitoring of political and religious meetings, and subpoenas without a court approval.

The resolution applies to law enforcement officials at the local, state and federal levels.

The Patriot Act, signed into law last year in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, expanded the federal government's power to monitor people's communications and deport noncitizens with little review by judges.

President Bush, when he signed the act, said it was essential for "preventing more atrocities in the hands of the evil ones." He said the law "respects the civil liberties guaranteed by our Constitution."

The resolution, which mirrors resolutions being considered by cities across Alaska and the nation, was brought to the commission by several dozen community members. They have since formed a group called Juneau Citizens for the Defense of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Members said they were spurred by their concern that the Patriot Act violates civil rights granted by the Constitution.

The Human Rights Commission's recommendations carry no force of law, but can guide Assembly decisions. Members of the citizen group plan to bring the resolution before the Juneau Assembly in February.

Ketchikan woman pleads guilty to meth charge

ANCHORAGE - A Ketchikan woman has pleaded guilty to intent to distribute methamphetamine.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Anchorage said Lila R. Greer entered a guilty plea Thursday in U.S. District Court.

According to court documents, Greer took delivery of a package she believed to be methamphetamine in November 2001. She later learned that the substance inside was not methamphetamine. Law enforcement officers had intercepted the package and replaced the contents with a non-narcotic substance.

Greer faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. She will be sentenced on April 7.

The case was investigated by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

Man charged with woman's murder

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage man has been charged with the murder of a woman found dead Wednesday in the East Anchorage apartment they shared.

Lorene S. Boehly, the 60-year-old woman found dead inside her East Anchorage condo, was beaten so violently with a frying pan by her boyfriend that the pan shattered, Anchorage police said Thursday.

William E. Willett, 55, confessed to the beating death of Lorene S. Boehly, 60, said Anchorage police Detective Bob Glen. Willett made his confession while at Providence Alaska Medical Center, where he is recovering from a drug overdose, Glen said.

Willett was charged Thursday evening with first-degree murder. He is being held on $100,000 bail, police said.

Boehly, Anchorage's third homicide victim this year, was a longtime employee of the Veterans Administration Hospital, officials there said.

Three charged in Mat-Su thefts

ANCHORAGE - Three young people charged with firing shots in an attempted home invasion in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough have been arrested.

John L. Burk, 18, Wasilla, along with a 15-year-old boy and a 13-year-old boy, were arrested Wednesday and charged with attempted murder, burglary, criminal mischief, misconduct involving weapons, misconduct involving a controlled substance and conspiracy. Both juveniles are from Wasilla.

Troopers said they responded with Wasilla police and Palmer police at 2:40 a.m. Wednesday to a report of a home invasion in Wasilla.

Harriette Viets, 80, reported that she confronted three males dressed in black who were attempting to break into her home. The three fled but fired multiple gunshots toward the home, troopers said.

Burk and the two juveniles were arrested shortly afterward.

Troopers said the three also are suspects in 11 other burglaries or thefts, some with major damage to homes and property stolen in excess of $10,000.

State to close snow crab season Saturday

UNALASKA - The Bering Sea snow crab fishery will close at 6 a.m. Saturday, when the fleet of 191 boats is expected to have reached the quota of 23.7 million pounds, the state Department of Fish and Game announced Thursday.

The fishery will finish in less than half the time of last year, when the fleet spent 24 days on the ground with a larger quota of 28.5 million pounds. Fish and Game biologist Forrest Bowers attributed the faster pace to better weather.

The season opened Jan. 15 with processors paying fishermen $1.85 a pound for the 1.2 pound average opilio Tanner crab, marketed as snow crab.

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