Northwest Digest

Posted: Thursday, March 04, 2004

Second man arrested from seizure of cocaine

JUNEAU - A local man arrested on a felony drug charge Wednesday was the second arrest resulting from the seizure of a pound of cocaine from an Alaska Marine Highway ferry in January.

Leopoldo Aston, 21, was charged with third-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance, stemming from events of Jan. 11. Alaska State Trooper Sgt. Tim Birt of the Southeast Alaska Narcotics Enforcement Team said Aston's arrest was related to the ferry seizure case, although he added he could not say how.

"The investigation is ongoing," he said.

Troopers reported that on Jan. 11, Petersburg police officers contacted a passenger aboard the state ferry Malaspina, seizing cocaine that officers determined to be destined for Juneau. Investigators delivered the drug to its intended recipient before serving a warrant that led to the arrest of Greg O. Brown.

Brown was arrested on a charge of third-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance on Jan. 12.

According to the trooper report, the pound of cocaine that was seized could have been divided into more than 1,300 doses.

Committee to discuss Douglas wolves, bear

JUNEAU - The Juneau-Douglas Fish and Game Advisory Committee is expected to discuss next week proposals to rescind the ban on trapping of wolves on Douglas Island and to rescind the regulation banning hunting of white bears in the Juneau area.

The committee will meet beginning at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 10, at the state Department of Fish and Game headquarters at West 8th Street, in the commissioner's conference room.

Other issues scheduled for discussion are commercial fisheries legislation and the Comprehensive Salmon Enhancement Plan for Southeast.

For more information, call Kathy Hansen, committee chairwoman at 586-6652 or Arthur Hughes, Southeast regional advisory committee coordinator, at 465-4111.

Governor supports gay rights, not marriage

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Gov. Gary Locke says he opposes gay marriage, which Multnomah County, Ore., began allowing on Wednesday, but favors civil unions that would give homosexual couples many of the same rights and responsibilities.

The Democratic governor said he also opposes the constitutional amendment option backed by President Bush to enshrine a gay marriage ban in the U.S. Constitution.

As scores of gay couples tied the knot in Portland, Oregon's largest city, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski cautioned that the new county policy allowing same-sex marriages may be illegal. He stressed that Oregon's marriage statute, passed in 1863, needs to be read within its historical context.

In Washington state, lawmakers in 1998 passed a "Defense of Marriage Act" to make Washington one of 38 states defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Locke vetoed the law, but lawmakers overrode the veto.

"The law in the state of Washington, through various court decisions going back several decades, makes it very clear that marriage ... is between a man and a woman, and that was affirmed by an act of the Legislature several years ago," Locke said Wednesday.

"I do not support same-sex marriages, but I do believe we should provide an opportunity or a legal mechanism by which gay and lesbian couples can get virtually the same legal rights as those who are married.

Deaths of 11-year-olds shake Montana town

RONAN, Mont. - When the two 11-year-old boys didn't come back for afternoon classes at Ronan Middle School last Friday, it didn't immediately raise any alarm bells. They were probably just playing hookie.

But when their frozen bodies were found in a snowy field Monday, and it was learned they had drunk massive amounts of liquor, it set off an anguished search for whoever - or whatever - was responsible.

"If two kids are intoxicated to the point that they lay down on the prairie and die, there's some negligence there," Lake County Sheriff Bill Barron said Wednesday. "Somebody has got to be responsible for these two kids just laying down and dying. If it's the system, we're going to have to work on the system."

But the blame may lay simply on childish bad judgment.

Frankie Sonneah Nicolai III and Justin Benoist apparently skipped school Friday afternoon, got their hands on a large quantity of liquor and ran off to drink it.

A friend who went searching for them Monday found their bodies about 100 yards apart in a field outside Ronan, on the Flathead Indian Reservation of northwestern Montana. Barron said they apparently died late Friday night or very early Saturday.

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