State Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Governor extends mineral development commission 10 years

ANCHORAGE - The commission charged with making recommendations to the Legislature and the governor on how to get around legal constraints on the state's mineral development has been extended another 10 years.

Gov. Frank Murkowski signed a bill Monday that extends the Alaska Minerals Commission to 2014.

The Legislature established the commission in 1986 when it found a number of federal and state regulations limited the development of the minerals industry.

Among recommendations the commission has had implemented are funding for airborne geophysical surveys that identify mineral deposits and the passage of the Alaska Minerals Policy Act.

The governor's budget for fiscal year 2004 contains $9,500 for the commission's continued operations.

Judge calls mistrial after jury deadlocks in third Mateu murder trial

JUNEAU - A jury in the third trial of a man charged with murdering his father has failed to reach a verdict, forcing a mistrial to be called Tuesday, according to the Ketchikan Daily News.

José "Che" Mateu, 20, was on trial in Juneau Superior Court, charged with first-degree murder and tampering with evidence in the January 2000 slaying of his father, José R. Mateu in Ketchikan.

Two previous trials held in Ketchikan also resulted in hung juries. The first jury was deadlocked at 9-3 to acquit and the second, 7-5 to convict. The jury count in the third trial was not available.

The Juneau jury in the third trial deliberated for approximately eight hours before writing a note Monday to Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins asking what it should do if it is deadlocked.

The jury sent a second note saying it was deadlocked. Collins called the jury into the courtroom and asked whether there was a reasonable chance a verdict might be reached. The jury foreman said he didn't believe there was.

A mistrial was called Tuesday afternoon after the jury still could not reach a verdict.

House panel balks at campaign finance bill

JUNEAU - A House committee is not going along with a plan to increase the amount of money people can contribute to election campaigns.

The State Affairs Committee on Monday rejected many of the changes in campaign finance reporting laws proposed by the Murkowski administration.

The committee opted to stay with the status quo of a $500 limit on the amount an individual can contribute to a political campaign.

The panel also decided to stick with the ban on lobbyists making contributions outside their home districts. And it opted to keep other existing contribution limits, including a $1,000 cap on donations from political action committees.

"Times are changing, but I don't think the contribution amounts or reporting amounts need to change," said Rep. Bob Lynn, an Anchorage Republican. "We all got here under the limits we have now."

Rep. Paul Seaton, a Homer Republican, said raising the contribution limits would benefit incumbents, who have an advantage in elections.

Jury clears man of interfering with Alaska Airlines flight crew

ANCHORAGE - A federal jury has acquitted a man who was accused of causing a disruption aboard an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Anchorage in February.

The jury deliberated for two days before deciding Monday that Gregory Alexander was innocent.

Prosecutors said Alexander erupted several times with profanity toward a flight attendant after he got caught between a lovers' quarrel Feb. 14 on Alaska Airlines Flight 181. Flight attendants woke Alexander up on the flight and asked him to switch seats with Robert Radder after Radder and Dollie Drape had a drunken fight.

Anchorage man survives throat slashing

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage man survived having his throat slashed by a woman he met and brought to his apartment, police said Tuesday.

Joseph Bridges, 47, was treated at Providence Alaska Medical Center for a 5-inch cut to his neck.

Rose Zmuda, 38, was arrested and charged with first-degree assault. She was being held in the Anchorage Jail on $15,000 bail.

Bridges told police he met the woman on Fourth Avenue Monday and took her to his home after they spent the day drinking. He said the woman slashed his throat for no apparent reason as they lay on a bed in his apartment.

Anchorage man dies in crash on Seward Hwy.

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage man died in a single-car rollover on the Seward Highway, Alaska State Troopers said.

Jeffery Jack McCracken, 62, was killed Monday evening at about Mile 71 of the highway, troopers said. McCracken was the sole occupant of the vehicle.

Troopers said it was raining heavily at the time of the accident, which occurred about midway between Girdwood and Hope.

McCracken was heading north shortly after 6 p.m., driving more than 80 mph, when he lost control of his sedan. The car slid to the east side of the road and slammed into the face of a cliff.

McCracken died at the scene, troopers said.

Troopers identify man who apparently drowned Saturday

ANCHORAGE - A Glennallen man who apparently drowned when he fell off a boat into icy waters near Columbia Glacier was identified by Alaska State Troopers as Michael Sisco.

Sisco, 50, was a passenger aboard the Nancy M, a 21-foot pleasure craft skippered by Andy Hess, 48, also of Glennallen. The two men and a dog left Valdez Saturday and were on a sightseeing trip in Prince William Sound when Sisco and the dog fell overboard about noon, troopers said Monday.

Hess heard the splash and ran to the rear of the vessel. Hess told authorities Sisco was not wearing a flotation device or survival suit. He tossed Sisco two life jackets, but Sisco did not use them and eventually sank beneath the surface.

Hess searched for about half an hour before Coast Guard and state Fish and Wildlife personnel arrived. The search was called off at 4 p.m. Saturday.

The dog swam to an iceberg and was picked up shortly afterward, said troopers spokesman Greg Wilkinson.

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