Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, February 01, 2004

Cold weather brings noise to courtroom

JUNEAU - The banging heard in Juneau District Court late last week wasn't coming from Judge Peter B. Froehlich's gavel.

Speaking over the clanging Friday afternoon, the judge said frozen pipes were being repaired downstairs.

"The noise will be gone Monday," said John Schauwecker, facilities manager for state buildings downtown, including the Dimond Courthouse.

He said repairs to the fire suppression system below the first floor were scheduled to be completed Saturday, although work to finish the ceiling would have to be put out to bid and completed later.

A sprinkler head burst in the garage on the ground floor, he said. "It's happening all over," he said, attributing the problem to the recent cold weather.

It was as low as 9 degrees downtown on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

The problem developed before the courthouse opened Thursday, Schauwecker said.

The ground floor is one floor below the building's Fourth Street entrance and Froehlich's courtroom.

Schauwecker said Friday the sprinkler system above the ground floor was operational. The court clerk offices are on the ground floor.

Man sentenced for assault

JUNEAU - A man arrested in November after fighting with officers in a downtown hotel has been sentenced to 120 days in jail.

Jim C. Reeves Jr., 34, pleaded guilty to two counts of misdemeanor assault and one count of criminal mischief, stemming from his actions on Nov. 13, 2003.

Prosecutors dismissed a third assault charge and single counts of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. All the charges were misdemeanors.

Ketchikan District Judge Kevin G. Miller, appearing telephonically in Juneau District Court, imposed 180 days in jail with 120 days suspended on each of the assault charges Reeves pleaded guilty to. Miller ordered the unsuspended time to be served consecutively. He also placed Reeves on probation for three years.

For the criminal mischief charge, Miller imposed 30 days in jail, all suspended. He also ordered Reeves to pay $361.90 in restitution.

Police reported that a 51-year-old man working at a Montana Creek job site signed a citizen's arrest complaint against Reeves on Nov. 13, 2003, charging disorderly conduct and alleging Reeves had threatened him.

That afternoon, police contacted Reeves in a downtown hotel. Officers said he denied the allegations, and fought with them after being told he was being placed under arrest.

Reeves was treated for minor injuries at Bartlett Regional Hospital before he was lodged at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center.

Juneau man charged with assault

JUNEAU - A 51-year-old Juneau man appeared in Juneau District Court on Friday with stitches over his right eye and three felony charges against him after a downtown knife fight Thursday night.

Larry McGurgan could go to prison for up to 15 years and be fined $150,000 if convicted of the three counts of third-degree assault he faces, Judge Peter B. Froehlich told him during his initial appearance.

At about 11:30 p.m. Thursday police received a report of a knife fight on Front Street. On a sidewalk in front of a bar, officers found about 10 people who pointed to McGurgan and said he threatened three people with a knife.

Officers took McGurgan to Bartlett Regional Hospital for treatment of his injuries, placed him under arrest and lodged him at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center.

McGurgan told Froehlich on Friday that he has been in Juneau since June and has a job, but cannot afford an attorney.

Before setting bail at $1,000, Froehlich noted that McGurgan had stitches over his right eye, abrasions on his nose and a cut over his left eye.

"I read three or four assaults here, and at least one isn't the fault of the defendant," he said, looking at paperwork filed with the complaint.

Froehlich said he would appoint the state Office of Public Advocacy to represent McGurgan.

Froehlich scheduled a Feb. 9 preliminary hearing to determine probable cause for the felony charges. The hearing would be canceled if the grand jury returns an indictment before that, he said.

State employees warned about thefts

JUNEAU - State employees have been warned to watch their wallets at work.

A notice circulated Friday said a pair of bold thieves may be working in the area.

The notice said thefts have been reported from employees' desk areas in the Alaska State Office Building, the Department of Natural Resources building and the Department of Environmental Conservation offices downtown.

At least four recent thefts have been reported to have occurred in a similar manner. Wallets were taken from desks or purses.

The stolen wallets later turned up, with the cash removed, in the women's restroom nearest to the thefts, the notice said.

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