State Briefs

Posted: Friday, March 28, 2003

Coast Guard responds to reported mutiny

ANCHORAGE - The skipper of a fishing vessel was arrested after he reported being held at gunpoint by his crew, Alaska State Troopers said.

Joseph Kuzmin, 27, skipper of the vessel Hunter called the Coast Guard on Wednesday evening, saying he was being forced to return to Kodiak, troopers said. Troopers took a boat to meet the Hunter in the Kupreanof Straits, spokesman Greg Wilkinson said.

Crew members told troopers that Kuzmin "had poked them with scissors, threatened them with screwdrivers and knives and ... handled his guns quite a bit while threatening them," Wilkinson said.

The crew had been fishing with Kuzmin for about two weeks when, fearing for their safety, two of them tackled the skipper, Wilkinson said.

Kuzmin told troopers the crew forced him to drink beer at gunpoint while he drove the boat, Wilkinson said.

Troopers seized three firearms and arrested Kuzmin on charges of misconduct involving a deadly weapon, drunken driving, refusal to submit to a chemical test and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

Gold Town manager looking for ideas and volunteers

JUNEAU - A handful of people met Thursday night with Lisle Hebert, the manager of the Gold Town Nickelodeon, to discuss ways to save the struggling independent movie theater from closure.

Hebert is looking for ideas, volunteers and possible donors, he said.

The group suggested forming a stronger relationship with the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, and starting a membership of donors. Council Director Sybil Davis said she would explore expanding its support for the theater.

Hebert said he would like to start a film society that would take on some of the work of running and marketing the theater.

Hebert will hold an organizational meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 3, at the theater. For more information call: 463-5591.

Mine workers make mammoth discovery

FAIRBANKS - For the second time this year, workers at True North Mine have found what appear to be mammoth tusks.

The tusks were uncovered Tuesday in the loose, moist dirt of the mine's northcentral pit.

Mine officials plan to offer the find to the University of Alaska Museum, home to mammoth tusks, skulls, femurs and lower jaws.

The True North mine is a satellite field northwest of Fort Knox, about 25 miles north of Fairbanks.

On Jan. 4, a True North heavy equipment operator uncovered three 3- to 4-foot sections of tusks. In early February, the tusks were reported missing. Troopers said the case is still under investigation.

Man arrested in mother's fatal stabbing

ANCHORAGE - A 27-year-old man with a history of mental illness was in custody Thursday, accused of fatally stabbing his mother with a steak knife inside their home near Wasilla.

Aaron Butler was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Grace Bertha Butler, 54, Wednesday night. He is being held on $200,000 cash-only bail.

Aaron Butler was diagnosed as schizophrenic several years ago and was on medication but did not take his daily dose Wednesday, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Butler said he had lived with his mother most of his life and didn't know how to get away from her.

Kenai Superior Court judge dies

KENAI - Kenai Superior Court Judge Jonathan H. Link died Tuesday night after a short illness. He was 59.

Link, administrative judge for the Kenai Peninsula, was appointed to the state Superior Court position by Gov. Steve Cowper in 1990. He had been in private law practice in Fairbanks prior to the appointment.

Man arrested in 1985 murder

ANCHORAGE - Alaska State Troopers this week arrested Barry McCormack and charged him with first-degree murder in the 1985 shooting of Opal Fairchild, a 65-year-old Soldotna resident.

Fairchild was shot in the head in her home during an apparent robbery. Fairchild's purse was found partly emptied and $400 was missing.

McCormack also was charged with second-degree murder in connection with the gunpoint robbery of Melvin Anderson, 48, the same month that year.

Anderson was shot once in the head at his woodstove retail store on the Sterling Highway. About $500 was taken from the cash register and Anderson's wallet. He survived and investigators were able to recover the bullet.

Investigators linked the shootings early on, but didn't have a suspect until a follow-up fingerprint search was done in 2000.

Troopers traced McCormack to Oklahoma, where he was working as a truck driver. A Kenai grand jury indicted him March 21. He was arraigned Thursday in Anchorage.

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