State and local briefly

Posted: Friday, March 10, 2000

Man gets 213 years for double killing

KENAI - A Kasilof man has been sentenced to serve 213 years in prison for killing two women in his home in 1998.

Robert V. Freeman, 58, was sentenced last week following his conviction on two counts of first-degree murder in December for the July 17, 1998, shooting of Jean Iwaszko, 33, of Kasilof and Tracy Eason, 28, of Soldotna.

He also was convicted of three counts of third-degree assault - one count for each of the three witnesses who were present during the shootings or shortly thereafter.

Superior Court Judge Jonathan Link sentenced Freeman to 99 years for each murder count, to be served consecutively, said his attorney, Darrel Gardner of the state Office of Public Advocacy. Freeman got five years for each of the three counts of assault, to be served concurrently with the murder sentences.

Gardner said Freeman continues to say he is innocent and has indicated his intent to appeal.

Gray whales seen cruising to Alaska

BREMERTON, Wash. - It must be nearly spring. Gray whales are popping up in Puget Sound, heading north to Alaska.

Residents near the sound have begun seeing the giant mammals, an indication the annual whale migration off the Washington coast is in full swing.

``We've been getting quite a few reports in the North Sound - around Whidbey Island, Port Susan, Saratoga Passage,'' said gray whale expert John Calambokidis of Cascadia Research Collective in Olympia.

Gray whales migrate every year from Mexico to Alaska. Occasionally, they stop in Puget Sound, especially young males.

Researchers are watching the whales carefully this year following a record number of gray whale deaths last year, he said. Many of the whales died with low body fat, adding to speculation they may have had a poor feeding season the prior winter in the Gulf of Alaska.

Game Board boosts McGrath-area moose

FAIRBANKS - Gov. Tony Knowles has kept the state Board of Game from controlling wolves around McGrath, so the panel has adopted other measures meant to boost area moose populations.

That includes reducing moose hunting opportunities and allowing hunters to kill black bears in the spring without salvaging their hides or meat.

Exempting black bear hunters from wanton waste laws is meant to reduce the number of bears. Area residents said their opportunities for harvesting moose have fallen dramatically because too many of the animals are being killed by wolves and bears.

Some board members said they didn't feel right about letting meat go to waste, but the measure ultimately passed.

The Game Board also voted to shorten the moose hunting season around McGrath, and to exclude non-Alaskans from hunting moose in the area.

Board members said that's the only way they can help McGrath, given the governor's reluctance to approve a predator control program.

``This may not be our preferred alternative, but it's the alternative open to us,'' said board member Greg Streveler of Gustavus.

The panel had approved a wolf control program for McGrath at its January meeting. But the governor has said he won't allow a state wolf kill unless the board establishes more wildlife viewing opportunities and a committee is created to discuss how best to cull predators.

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