DA drops assault charges in stabbing case

Defendant agrees to serve 185 days for unrelated assault

Posted: Thursday, June 06, 2002

The district attorney's office has dismissed felony assault charges against a man accused of stabbing a friend more than 20 times earlier this year during an argument over who was the "real" Alaskan, authorities said in Juneau Superior Court today.

George Shavers, 48, admitted at trial to stabbing Barry Richards, 38, in his eye, ear and 20 other places on his body while they were drinking on Shavers' boat Jan. 26, but claimed it was self-defense.

A jury convicted Shavers in April on a felony charge of tampering with evidence, but could not reach a verdict on the assault charge.

According to the agreement between District Attorney Rick Svobodny and Assistant Public Defender David Seid announced today, the state would drop the assault charge, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

In exchange, Shavers, who was convicted in 2001 of an unrelated misdemeanor assault, would serve the 185 days suspended from that case. The tampering conviction would stand, and sentencing for that charge would be determined by Judge Larry Weeks.

According to the agreement, Shavers can appeal his sentence but not the conviction.

Shavers can get up to five years in prison for tampering. He has been in prison since his arrest in January and is set to be sentenced July 31.

Svobodny was out of town and unavailable for comment. Assistant District Attorney Natasha Norris entered the agreement on the state's behalf at the hearing today.

Seid said he is pleased with the agreement.

Shavers "has been in jail since the end of January and has basically served the time on the misdemeanor already, so he's not really giving up anything," said Seid. "Also, he didn't plead guilty to anything."

Seid said he didn't hold out for another jury trial because "you never know what to expect with a new jury. The last one heard everything there was to hear and couldn't come up with a verdict on the assault charge. They came back 6-6. So if we went through with another trial we could probably win and we could probably lose. It wouldn't make sense to go through with another trial."

In an interview with the Empire in May, Svobodny said the jury voted 10-2 in favor of convicting Shavers on the assault charge. Neither attorney officially polled the jury.

Authorities have not been able to locate Richards, the victim, since he discharged himself from Bartlett Regional Hospital on Jan. 28.

Melanie Plenda can be reached at mplenda@juneauempire.com.

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