Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, April 15, 2005

Valley P.O. open late for last-minute filers

JUNEAU -The Mendenhall Valley post office, at the corner of Vintage Boulevard and Riverside Drive, will postmark tax returns until 11:59 p.m. tonight for last-minute filers.

All the other local offices will keep regular hours. The Auke Bay and Douglas offices will close at 5:30 p.m, the Federal Building station will close at 5 and the Front Street contract station will close at 4:30.

Former banished man pleads not guilty

JUNEAU - Adrian Rusch-Guthrie, who made national news when he was banished to an Alaska island after pleading guilty to a Washington robbery as a teenager, pleaded not guilty Thursday to more recent felony charges.

Rusch-Guthrie appeared before Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins, who scheduled a July 11 trial before Judge Larry Weeks.

Now 28, Rusch-Guthrie was indicted Monday on felony charges of third-degree assault and third-degree weapons misconduct that grew out of an April 5 incident in which he was accused of entering a Juneau home and putting a gun to an 18-year-old man's head. After the incident was reported, police stopped the vehicle he was driving. The weapons charge arises from the allegation of a previous felony conviction that prohibits him from possessing a concealable firearm.

Also from the vehicle, police arrested Deven James, 24, who was charged with the same felony weapons charge, also alleging a previous felony conviction. James pleaded also pleaded not guilty.

Last week, Juneau District Judge Keith Levy set bail at $25,000. Assistant Public Defender Eric Hedland, who said his agency would be representing Rusch-Guthrie, did not address bail at Thursday's hearing.

In 1994, Rusch-Guthrie and a cousin pleaded guilty to robbing a pizza delivery man, who was beaten with a baseball bat. The Washington judge turned the case over to a trial court which banished both to separate campsites on an island near Ketchikan.

Man arrested on sex assault charge

JUNEAU - Police arrested a 20-year-old man Thursday on a state trooper warrant charging him with first-degree sexual assault.

Christopher Linn Williams, 20, was arrested at 9:43 a.m. in the 1700 block of Northwood Drive in the Lemon Creek area. According to trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson, the warrant alleges the crime occurred on March 17 in the Juneau area. No other information was available Thursday.

Less than four hours after Williams' arrest, he appeared before Juneau District Magistrate John W. Sivertsen Jr. who set bail at $10,000. He said that before Williams can be released on bail, the court would have to approve someone to take on the responsibility of watching him.

Spill not as widespread as first suspected

ANCHORAGE - A Prudhoe Bay oil spill was not as widespread as initially suspected, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The spill Tuesday spewed 420 to 1,260 gallons of oil, or 10 to 30 barrels, state pollution officials said.

Officials with the state Department of Environmental Conservation said spewing oil landed on about 50 acres of tundra and gravel production pad. The agency initially estimated that as much as 200 acres of tundra was oiled.

More than 40 cleanup workers were on the scene Wednesday, using loaders, snowmobiles with trailers, and brooms to sweep up snow that was lightly misted with oil.

"I'm very impressed with how much progress we made today," said Toivo Luick, a DEC spill response official. "We're able to do a great deal of cleanup just by sweeping the surface snow together into windrows and then picking those up with a shovel. It's gone really quickly."

Man charged with burning son with knife

ANCHORAGE - A 28-year-old man has been charged with burning his 9-year-old son on the face and inside his mouth with a hot butter knife.

Dennis Wilfredo Moronta was charged with felony assault, according to charging documents.

A family friend reported the boy's injuries to police Monday after seeing the wounds, prosecutors said.

Officers Joshua Nolder and Steven Much knocked on the family's door. The 9-year-old answered and the officers noted a swollen upper lip and a raw wound that extended around part of his left cheek.

Moronta at first denied burning his son but later told detectives he did not mean to do it. Moronta said he had been heating the butter knife to mark keys when he learned his son had called a teacher a profane name.

House OKs extending seismic hazards panel

FAIRBANKS - Two governors have failed to appoint anyone to a state seismic hazards safety commission created by the Legislature, but House lawmakers have voted to retain the commission to 2008.

In a unanimous vote, the House on Wednesday approved a bill that retains the commission, which is set to end in June. The bill also adds tsunamis to the group's purview.

The bill measure now goes to the Senate for consideration.

The commission was the idea of former state Rep. John Davies, D-Fairbanks, a former state seismologist.

It was created by the Legislature in 2002 and assigned with reviewing ways to limit property damage from earthquakes. Commission members were to weigh factors such as building codes and transportation infrastructure with the threat of an earthquake in mind.

Neither former Gov. Tony Knowles nor Gov. Frank Murkowski appointed members to the commission.

Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Kodiak, sponsored the bill to extend the commission and said she hopes it will become active and focus on both earthquakes and tsunamis. The December tsunami in South Asia and seismic activity in Alaska were reasons to sponsor the bill, she said.



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