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Bond cut for woman charged in taxi assault

Posted: Wednesday, March 31, 2004

An 18-year-old woman charged with her husband in a Jan. 7 attack of Juneau cab driver Eric Drake smiled and waved at her 8-month-old son Tuesday, before a judge made it easier for her to get out of jail.

Violet St. Clair was arrested Feb. 4 and was later indicted on felony counts of first-degree robbery and first-degree assault in the slashing attack that, according to Assistant District Attorney Doug Gardner, Drake was fortunate to survive.

Tuesday's hearing was the first Drake attended without bandages on his hands. More than six hours of the eight hours he spent in surgery the night of the attack were devoted to repairing his damaged hands.

During Tuesday's hearing, Juneau Superior Court Judge Larry Weeks reduced St. Clair's bond from the $100,000 originally set by District Court Judge Peter B. Froehlich. Weeks set her bond at $10,000 and required that if released she be under the supervision of her mother-in-law, Vera Jackson.

Jackson's son and St. Clair's husband, Aaron St. Clair Jr., remains at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center on $500,000 bond. In addition to first-degree robbery and first-degree assault, Aaron St. Clair is charged with first-degree attempted murder and tampering with evidence.

Violet St. Clair had not posted bond and continued to be lodged at the state prison Tuesday evening.

Her attorney, Steven Wells, appearing by telephone from Palmer, asked Jackson to testify about her understanding of what it would mean to be the third-party custodian.

Jackson said that if her daughter-in-law did anything she wasn't supposed to do, she would call the police. She said she had been taking care of the St. Clair's baby, who was born last July.

Weeks asked family members to remove the child from the courtroom at one point during the hearing. "I don't mind having babies here," he said, but he explained that the noise the child was making was interfering with the recording of the proceedings.

Gardner said he had nothing against Jackson, but he opposed the reduction of Violet St. Clair's bond based on concerns for the community's safety.

He alleged that Violet St. Clair helped plan the attack on Drake, who had picked them up in his cab on the snowy night. She sat next to the defenseless man while her husband attacked him with a knife from behind, Gardner added.

"She took the money from Mr. Drake's bloody wallet," he continued. "She took the bloody money home and washed and dried it."

After leaving the courtroom, Drake's fiancee, Maria Miller, said she was upset with the reduction in bond. "I couldn't believe they even set bail (in February)" she added.

Recalling that the St. Clairs reportedly told police they were in need of money for diapers and food, she questioned how the family could post the bond to get Violet St. Clair out of jail.

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



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