Banished man is arrested for assault

DA asks for high bail because of accused's 'violent tendencies'

Posted: Wednesday, April 06, 2005

A man who was famously banished to a Southeast Alaska island for a 1993 robbery was arrested early Tuesday in Juneau on assault and weapons charges.

Adrian Rusch-Guthrie, a 28-year-old now living in Juneau, was one of two boys who became an experiment in Native tribal justice when sentenced to time on an island off Craig. On Tuesday, police arrested him for allegedly pressing a gun to a sleeping teenager's head.

Rusch-Guthrie appeared in Juneau District Court Tuesday on felony charges of assault and weapons misconduct, both in the third-degree.

He told District Judge Keith Levy that he wouldn't be able to meet the $25,000 bail set on Assistant District Attorney Jack Schmidt's recommendation.

Schmidt said he asked for bail that high because Rusch-Guthrie has demonstrated "violent tendencies," including a Washington state robbery conviction.

Schmidt identified Rusch-Guthrie as one of the teens who was banished to an island by a tribal court in the 1990s.

Associated Press accounts of that incident say Rusch-Guthrie and his cousin both pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery in 1994. They were convicted of using an aluminum baseball bat to rob a pizza delivery man in 1993.

Both of the teens from Klawock were turned over to a Tlingit tribal court, which banished them to separate campsites on a small island near Prince of Wales Island for what was to be 18 months.

National news reports noted unauthorized visits to town and visits by media and family members. The judge cut the banishment short in 1996.

Rusch-Guthrie told Levy he understood what Schmidt was saying about his criminal record, but he added, "I haven't been in any trouble for quite some time."

The charges were filed after an 18-year-old man reported to police at 12:28 a.m. Tuesday that Rusch-Guthrie had come into his home and pressed a gun against his head while he was sleeping. About 40 minutes later police stopped a vehicle in which Rusch-Guthrie was riding with a 24-year-old man, Deven James.

In court, Schmidt said police found handguns under their seats.

James appeared in court, shackled to Rusch-Guthrie, on a felony charge of third-degree weapons misconduct. Both weapons charges allege the defendants were in possession of concealable firearms after being convicted of felonies.

Levy set bail at $10,000 for James, following Schmidt's recommendation.

The judge appointed an attorney to represent James. Rusch-Guthrie also asked for a court-appointed attorney, but Levy said he appeared not to qualify financially.

"I haven't worked in six months," Rusch-Guthrie said. He also told the judge he earned $25,000 in the last 12 months and owned a $5,000 motorcycle.

He asked for an opportunity for third-party release so he could work to resolve the current charges. He called the bail amount "out there."

Levy said Rusch-Guthrie could request a bail hearing at a later date.

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



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