Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, February 13, 2005

DIA elects council members, officers

JUNEAU - The Douglas Indian Association has elected its council members and officers for the year.

Elected were Clarence Laiti, president; Norman Sarabia, vice president; Frank Miyasato, treasurer; and Gloria Sarabia, secretary.

Other council members are Dorothy Coronell-James, Andrew Ebona, Henry Howard, Charles Williams and Darryl Williams.

The tribal council office is at 1112 Third St. in Douglas.

Judge rules on sex offender registry

ANCHORAGE - A federal judge ruled that part of Alaska's sex offender registry is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge John Sedwick ruled that convicted sex offenders don't have a choice when it comes to being identified on the state's sex offender registry. But the judge found that some of the offenders will get to keep their DNA to themselves.

Sedwick ruled unconstitutional part of a state law passed in 2003 that requires registered sex offenders to submit a DNA sample for the state's database. The ruling affects a limited group of sex offenders who had completed their sentences when the law passed. It does not affect criminals who have not completed their sentences, including probation or parole.

Sedwick said those offenders who had completed their sentences when the law was passed are considered "free persons." The state may require them to be listed on the sex offender registry, but it can't compel them to provide DNA samples, he said.

The order came down as part of a lawsuit filed in 2003 by a convicted sex offender identified in court documents only as John Doe. The lawsuit grew to a class action that included any registered sex offenders who had completed their sentences when the law passed.

Young introduces transportation bill

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Don Young has introduced a highway bill with a six-year spending total that matches the measure proposed by President Bush.

Young's bill, dubbed the "Transportation Equity Act-A Legacy for Users," would spend $283.9 billion. During the last Congress, Young sought $375 billion and an increase in the federal gasoline tax.

Opposition from the administration forced a retreat to an amount identical to the bill Young introduced Thursday.

"It was the total six-year guaranteed funding level that we almost agreed to in last year's conference negotiations," Young said.

It's also the amount that highway funding analysts believe will be available from the federal Highway Trust Fund without increases in gas taxes, which the administration opposes.

Conference negotiations between House and Senate members were necessary to resolve differences between legislation passed in the two bodies. Senate negotiators would not go below $300 billion last year and the bill died.

Young praised the administration's proposal as a $28 billion increase above the proposal introduced by the administration two years ago.

Man in fatal crash had accident day before

ANCHORAGE - The man driving the tractor-trailer that swerved out of its lane on the Seward Highway and into a minivan, killing two, had been cited the day before in a similar crash.

Alaska State Troopers continue to investigate a wreck Wednesday near the Hope Cutoff that killed Jay Stafford, 49, and Teresa Stafford, 41, of Soldotna.

No charges have been filed against the truck driver, Gilbert Montiel, 50.

Weather conditions and speed may have been contributing factors, troopers said. State authorities are inspecting the 1985 Freightliner tractor-trailer Montiel drove. They do not believe alcohol or other substances were factors.

Montiel was driving the empty 60-foot-long side-dump truck from Seward to his home in Chugiak. According to troopers the road conditions at about 3 p.m. Wednesday, when Montiel reached Mile 57 near the Hope Cutoff, were poor.

"It was slush on top of ice, mixing rain and snow," trooper Sgt. Brandon Anderson said. "It alternated between very bad to marginal."

Another truck driver on the road told troopers he was following Montiel at a consistent pace of about 55 mph.

Troopers said that when traveling downhill on a gradual right curve, Montiel lost control of his vehicle and swerved into the other lane at the Canyon Creek bridge. He hit the Staffords' Dodge Caravan head-on, dragging it for about 300 feet along the guardrail before it came to a halt.

A day earlier, Montiel had had a similar accident in Seward. According to troopers, he lost control of his truck on a gradual right curve on a slippery road and ended up in the oncoming lane. He struck a 1995 Ford pickup driven by 18-year-old Zach Coots.

The vehicles did not strike head-on but slightly to the side. Coots' truck went into an embankment and was demolished. Coots was uninjured.

Montiel told troopers in the Seward crash that he was driving 30 mph in the 45-mph zone. He was given a ticket for driving too fast for the road conditions.

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