Alaska Digest

Posted: Thursday, February 01, 2007

Man sentenced in old murder case

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KENAI - A 56-year-old man received the maximum sentence after being convicted of shooting a woman to death in her home nearly 22 years ago.

Kenai District Court Judge Charles Huguelet told Barry McCormack during sentencing that the court found him to be "the worst type of offender."

McCormack was convicted of first-degree murder last May in the death of Opal Fairchild, 65, and was sentenced Tuesday to 99 years without eligibility for discretionary parole.

Authorities say the murder occurred May 20, 1985, in Fairchild's Soldotna home during a robbery attempt.

"She was killed for approximately $20 - pocket change," Alice Fairchild, the victim's daughter-in-law, told Anchorage television station KTUU.

McCormack was defiant through the sentencing and maintained his innocence.

McCormack became a suspect after his fingerprints were matched to latent fingerprints found in Fairchild's house. Working as a truck driver in Oklahoma, he was arrested in 2003 by the cold case unit of the Alaska State Troopers after he was linked to other crimes.

House passes bill to honor Susan Butcher

JUNEAU - The Alaska House of Representatives on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill that calls for honoring famed Alaskan musher Susan Butcher on the first Saturday of each March

That coincides with the traditional start date of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. It would be known as Susan Butcher Day.

Butcher was an inspirational four-time Iditarod winner who died last year of leukemia at the age of 51.

Butcher won the Iditarod in 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1990. She also made headlines in 1979 when she helped drive the first sled-dog team to the 20,320-foot summit of Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

Stevens proposes Web traffic limits

ANCHORAGE - Web content on computers in schools or libraries could be restricted under a bill proposed by Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens that is intended to shield children from online predators and sexually explicit sites.

The building blocks of the bill have been proposed before to opposition from some free speech advocates. A nearly identical bill stalled in the Senate last year.

One provision would require schools and libraries that get certain federal funding to block or limit access to social networking Web sites, including the popular MySpace, Facebook and Friendster.

The wide-ranging bill also proposes stiffer penalties for failure to report child pornography, would require Web sites to label sexually explicit material and would restrict the sale of children's personal information, such as names and e-mail addresses.

Critics such as the nonprofit Center for Democracy and Technology have said such legislation is unconstitutional and could lead to things like song lyrics and PG-13 movies being labeled "explicit." They also question whether it would actually control pornographers.

Village of Anderson faces winter flooding

FAIRBANKS - Midwinter flooding in the village of Anderson, 20 miles south of Nenana, has residents pumping water out of their crawl spaces and basements.

Water from overflow on the Nenana Slough is flooding campsites in City Park and the road to the park is filled with ice, slush and overflow, said resident Samantha Rathbone.

Anderson, with a population of less than 300, is located approximately 20 miles south of Nenana off the Parks Highway.

Although the overflow from the slough is causing some flooding, city officials say not all sources of the water have been accounted for.

Anderson Mayor Mike Pearson said the state hasn't provided any answers yet, so he plans to contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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