State Briefs

Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Candle causes fire in home

JUNEAU - An unattended candle has been blamed for a fire that destroyed a room in a Douglas home Monday evening.

Capital City Fire and Rescue responded around 7:30 p.m. to a fire that broke out in a bedroom of a Fifth Street home after a candle ignited nearby bedding. No one was injured in the incident.

The 19 volunteer and career firefighters who responded to the call extinguished the blaze in about 10 minutes and kept it from spreading to other areas of the home. They said the scene was cleared and cleaned within the hour.

Though the fire was relegated to one room in the home, other parts also sustained damage. The nature and extent of that damage was not released by the fire department. Damage estimates were unknown by the Empire's mid-day deadline.

Child slasher Jason Pritchard sentenced to 99-year terms

ANCHORAGE - A man who slashed school children under the delusion that he could send them to God by killing them was sentenced Monday to two concurrent 99-year prison terms.

Jason Pritchard, 34, will be 100 years old before he is eligible for parole under the sentence handed down by Superior Court Judge Dan Hensley, who also concluded Pritchard was guilty but mentally ill.

That means he is not eligible for release on furlough or parole until he's cured. The Corrections Department would be required to seek civil commitment if Pritchard still is mentally ill after serving 66 years, or even his full sentence.

Pritchard on May 7 carried a filet knife to Mountain View Elementary School and stabbed or slashed three boys as they stood in line with other children for the school's breakfast program. Pritchard then went inside the school, pulled another boy from underneath a desk, and slashed his throat.

The children suffered cuts up to 2 inches deep, and in some cases, almost from ear to ear. Only Pritchard's haste or the grace of God allowed the four boys to survive, said Assistant District Attorney Adrienne Bachman.

"These wounds were killing wounds," she said.

Pritchard pleaded no contest in October to two counts of attempted murder.

Hensley said Pritchard was diagnosed with extreme schizophrenia. His multiple victims and their vulnerability put Pritchard in the worst class of offenders, Hensley said, and the judge concluded that Pritchard was likely to be an extreme danger to the public for the rest of his life.

Boyfriend admits to abuse of baby that died

ANCHORAGE A 16-year-old charged with killing his girlfriend's baby will be tried as an adult, Ketchikan police said.

Josh Rowden has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Adrian Cole Fackrell, who was 6 weeks old when he died Saturday.

The baby was taken to a Ketchikan doctor on April 16. Within hours he was sent by medical plane to Seattle Children's Hospital.

Seattle doctors determined the baby had bacterial meningitis, and they found multiple broken bones. On April 18, the Alaska Division of Family and Youth Services was alerted of suspected abuse. The agency contacted Ketchikan police the next day.

In an interview Friday with Ketchikan police in Seattle, Rowden described repeated violence against the child, according to a charging document. Rowden, who was not the baby's father, told police he shook Adrian twice, according to the document filed Saturday in Ketchikan. He also described other physical abuse.

Both lower legs were broken and the baby's right femur suffered a spiral fracture, the charging document said.

Adrian's mother, Leah Fackrell, 18, may also face charges, said Ketchikan Police Chief Grant Sirevog.

Russian bombers probe American airspace

WASHINGTON - Two Russian heavy bombers skirted U.S. airspace off the coast of Alaska last week, prompting the U.S. Air Force to scramble two F-15s to intercept them, defense officials said. The Russian planes left without incident.

The long-range bombers were a frequent visitor to Alaska's airspace during the Cold War, but have been seen less often since. The last reported interception of Russian Bears was in March 2000.

Officials said the Russian bombers, Tu-95 Bears, were probably part of annual springtime training exercises taking place off Russia's far eastern coast.

U.S. air defenses have been on heightened alert since Sept. 11. The military is conducting more fighter patrols, and more fighters are kept on alert at air bases around the country.

Assembled from staff and wire reports.

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