State Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Cab hits wolf in Valley

JUNEAU - Police killed a wolf early Tuesday morning after it was struck by a taxi in the Mendenhall Valley.

An initial report to police, around 3:38 a.m. Tuesday, was that a cab struck a bear on Glacier Spur Road, police said in a press release. The taxi company's name was not released.

When police arrived at the scene, they noticed the animal, which from far away looked like a small bear, was actually a wolf. The wolf was severely injured, police said. The wolf was euthanized and Alaska State Troopers were notified to claim the carcass.

Juneau celebrates the law

JUNEAU - Local court officials and attorneys will take the importance of understanding the law to students on Thursday as part of their Law Day celebration.

Law Day, a statewide, day-long tribute to the U.S. legal system, will focus on the theme "Celebrate the Freedom of our Independent Courts."

Thursday's events will include a reunion of constitutional convention delegates at Centennial Hall from 5 to 7 p.m. Superior Court Judge Larry Weeks helped organize the meeting of the surviving delegates, who will speak on democracy and field public questions.

Other events throughout the day will include talks at Juneau-Douglas High School from judges, court staff and attorneys on the role of courts in democracy and about how sentences are fashioned.

Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins plans to speak with residents and staff at the Johnson Youth Center, a detention center for youthful offenders and runaways, about the legal system. Juneau-Douglas High School students will participate in a video program about misdemeanor sentencing.

The programs are free and the reception at Centennial Hall is open to the public with refreshments following.

For more information contact area court administrator Neil Nesheim at 463-4753 or Bob Briggs at 586-1627.

Soldotna water-thrower faces criminal charges

ANCHORAGE - Criminal charges have been filed against a man who says he was being patriotic when he dumped water on war protesters in Soldotna.

Four misdemeanor charges, including charges of assault and violation of constitutional rights, were filed Monday against Jeff Webster, 44, a Soldotna fishing guide.

Webster, the father of a Marine, has admitted to twice pouring buckets of cold water from a passing pickup on protesters in March and early April. He originally was charged with harassment. The new charges also include an additional harassment charge.

The new fourth-degree assault charge came from another incident, when Webster allegedly pushed and threatened a male protester.

Two other new counts accuse Webster of violating the demonstrators' rights under the Alaska Constitution to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. The law says one cannot intentionally injure, oppress, threaten or intimidate another person in an attempt to deprive them of their rights.

Webster said he would plead innocent to all charges.

"I don't regret it. They can charge me with what they want," Webster said.

Webster's lawyer, Wayne Anthony Ross, has argued that the state shouldn't prosecute Webster because he was sticking up for his son, a Marine stationed in Iraq. Webster produced a video of the second drive-by dousing, set to patriotic music, which was widely distributed through e-mail.

Man accused of defrauding Veterans Administration

FAIRBANKS - A Fairbanks man is on trial on 45 federal charges of defrauding the Veterans Administration out of $63,000.

Donald Hymes, 68, is accused of claiming his deceased mother was still alive, then collecting checks made out to her. His trial is in U.S. District Court in Fairbanks.

Federal prosecutor Steve Cooper said Hymes began his scheme in 1990, when his mother died in California.

In his opening statement Monday, Cooper said the Veterans Administration was sending Hymes' mother monthly checks because she was the widow of a veteran. Hymes never mentioned her death to either the probate court in California or the Veterans Administration, Cooper said.

Hymes is representing himself with the assistance of his wife and a lawyer only recently appointed to the case. He used his opening statement to attack the government's prosecution of him.

Hymes said the government violated his constitutional rights and never approached him about the situation, choosing instead to engage in "an orgy of indictment manipulation."

At least 19 winners in Nenana Ice Classic

NENANA - The ice on the Tanana River went out at 7:22 p.m. Alasaka Daylight Time Tuesday to end the suspense in this year's Nenana Ice Classic.

"At this time, there are 19 winning tickets," said Cherrie Forness, the ice classic director.

"We have one more can (1,000 tickets) to add to our database. Once that is done, which should be tomorrow, we will notify the winners." They will share $301,000.

The winning time was announced by Forness. The sky was clear and sunny when the tripod headed down the river, and the temperature was about 48 degrees.

The identities and hometowns of the winning ticketholders weren't available Tuesday night, Forness said. A total of 240,166 guesses were received this year, Forness said. Counting was expected to be finished today. It was the eighth time the ice went out on April 29, in 87 years that the annual contest has been held.

Last year, the ice went out on May 7 and there were six winning tickets.

The number of $2.50 entries was down this year from about 299,000 last year, when the price was $2 a ticket.

But with the higher price, the overall jackpot was little changed from the $304,000 paid out last year.

Money from the ticket sales goes to charities, after the jackpot and expenses are paid out.



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