Rowcroft attorney wants next trial to be moved out of town

Kmart thief faces two charges of interference with official proceedings

Posted: Thursday, February 12, 2004

The next time Frank Brian Rowcroft stands trial, his attorney wants it to be outside of Juneau.

Rowcroft was sentenced Tuesday to five years in jail with 212 years suspended for the theft of nearly $100,000 in cash, checks and credit card receipts from Kmart on Easter morning in 2002.

On the eve of Rowcroft's two-week trial in November 2003 on the first-degree theft charge, a grand jury indicted him on two counts of interference with official proceedings. The counts alleged he threatened to kill a witness who planned to testify against him.

Each of the interference charges holds the same potential penalties as the Kmart theft.

Rowcroft pleaded not guilty. His attorney, Louis Menendez, filed a motion to change the site and date of the trial, which has been scheduled for April. The case is assigned to Juneau Superior Court Judge Larry Weeks.

To support his motion, Menendez included stories from the Juneau Empire.

"He cannot have a fair trial," Menendez wrote.

"The defendant has been news - often front-page coverage - in Juneau for some time," he continued.

The stories date back to Rowcroft's arrest in May 2002 with more than $30,000 in his vehicle at the international border north of Skagway. They include coverage of a civil suit filed against him last summer in connection with his job as the loss-prevention supervisor at Kmart, and they extend through his trial late last fall.

The motion was filed before the Empire reported on Rowcroft's sentencing Tuesday.

Senior Attorney Richard Svobodny, who is prosecuting the latest case against Rowcroft, opposed the defense motion. He argued that the trial should not be moved before potential jurors are questioned. Svobodny added that the trial could be postponed to address the concerns of a fair trial.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.



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