State Briefs

Posted: Sunday, April 20, 2003

Officials plan for Juneau disaster

JUNEAU - About 70 members of various city, state and federal agencies met last week to learn how to work together in the event of a large-scale disaster in Juneau.

The Incident Response System seminar, held Thursday and Friday, was open to any law enforcement official who could be called to respond to emergencies such as bomb threats, floods, wildfires, earthquakes, or events with mass casualties.

Local bureaus of the FBI, U.S. Forest Service and Transportation Safety Administration attended, as did Juneau police and fire officials.

Forest Service official Jon Herrick, director of homeland security in Juneau, coordinated the class. He said the system prepares emergency responders to work collectively with agencies other than their own through uniform methods and terminology.

The system is used nationwide and was developed to allow agencies to aid in large-scale disasters out of their jurisdictions. Herrick said more training seminars may be offered.

'Other suspect' testifies in Mateu trial

JUNEAU - The man the defense claims could have killed Jose R. Mateu took the stand Friday in the third murder trial of Mateu's son.

Jose M. "Che" Mateu, 20, is charged with first-degree murder and tampering with evidence in the January 2000 shooting of his father in Ketchikan. He is being tried in Juneau Superior Court. Two trials in Ketchikan ended in hung juries.

The defense is hoping to show that family friend Jeff Jenkinson had motive and opportunity to kill the elder Mateu.

In a pre-emptive move, the prosecution called Jenkinson to the stand, hoping to show he had an alibi for Jan. 13, 2000, the night troopers claim Che Mateu shot his father.

Jenkinson testified he had just returned from a 13-day commercial shrimping trip and was aboard the fishing vessel tied at the Bar Harbor float between 10:30 and 11:30 p.m.

He and another crew member took a taxi to the Potlatch Bar, he said, and after about an hour, left and retired to their respective boats in Thomas Basin.

Jenkinson said he went back to work on the fishing boat the next morning and unloaded shrimp, refueled and cleaned up the vessel. He learned of the murder later that day.

Under questioning from District Attorney Richard Svobodny, Jenkinson acknowledged he had stayed regularly with the Mateus and knew where keys to the house and gun cabinet were kept.

The trial is to resume Monday with Jenkinson again taking the stand.

Teen convicted of murdering brother

UNALASKA - A jury here has convicted a Nikolaevsk teenager of murdering his brother.

The verdict against 17-year-old Grigori Zuboff came Friday, the fourth day of deliberations.

The jury found Zuboff guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and tampering with evidence.

The victim was his brother, Elisei, who was 20 when he was shot to death Sept. 1, 2001, in a fishing boat anchored off Unalaska.

Zuboff's lawyer, David Weber, told the jury the rifle went off accidentally, that his client was extremely drunk when the incident occurred, and that Zuboff only wanted to scare his brother.

The lawyer also told the jury that if they didn't believe it was an accident, Zuboff was justified in shooting his brother in self-defense.

Elisei had beaten Grigori earlier that day, continuing a long pattern of abuse, the lawyer said.

But prosecutor Jay Fayette said Zuboff had shot his brother in ambush from his bunk. He then tried to make it look like suicide by putting the rifle next to his brother's body with Elisei's finger on the trigger.

Processor defends farmed-salmon buy

ANCHORAGE - An Alaska fish processor, testifying Friday in the Bristol Bay price-fixing lawsuit, defended his company's decision to sell Chilean farmed salmon in Japan.

"We're a full-service seller over there," said Don Giles, president of Icicle Seafoods. "If we have an established customer who wants to buy sockeye, we want them to think of Icicle Seafoods first."

Giles' testimony in Superior Court came at the end of the 10th week of trial in a class action lawsuit brought by 4,500 Bristol Bay fishermen.

In a letter to fishermen in December 1993, Giles was blunt about the competition:

"Farmed fish prices are somewhat higher than the price for Bristol Bay sockeye, but it can successfully command a higher price because of superior freshness and quality characteristics," he said then.

But since Icicle began buying farmed Chilean salmon for its Japanese customers in the early 1990s, its purchases of sockeye salmon from harvesters in Bristol Bay has increased, Giles testified.

The trial, which began Feb. 3, is expected to run through May.

Plan for mine road finished

ANCHORAGE - Initial planning for an industrial road linking the Donlin Creek gold deposit to the Kuskokwim River is nearly finished and the design phase will begin next month, according to a state transportation official.

Donlin Creek is Alaska's largest known undeveloped gold deposit. The site is about 150 miles northeast of Bethel on land owned by Calista Corp., the Native corporation for the Bethel region.

In November, Alaska voters approved bonding $4 million to pay part of the cost of the 12-mile road.

Mike McKinnon, senior planner for the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, said $1.5 million of that would be needed to pay for design, and the rest has been earmarked to cover part of the construction costs, which are estimated at $15 million to $20 million.

The companies exploring the Donlin Creek area have not decided whether to develop the prospect. Besides a road to the river, the prospect needs a major source of electric power.

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