Plea pre-empts trial in Radio Shack assault case

Posted: Friday, June 17, 2005

The former manager of the Radio Shack store in the Nugget Mall pleaded no contest Thursday to misdemeanor assault of a man who police allege questioned if he had acted in a racist manner.

James White, 46, who now lives in Bend, Ore., had been scheduled to stand trial beginning Thursday on a single charge of fourth-degree assault. Although not admitting guilt in the Feb. 25 incident in the storage room of his store, he is subject to sentencing as if he were found guilty.

The Juneau case was assigned to Ketchikan District Judge Kevin Miller, who scheduled sentencing for Sept. 15. The maximum jail sentence for the charge is one year.

"It's the same as a guilty plea," the victim, Fred Hiltner, said Thursday. "We're relieved the trial phase is over."

Hiltner, a Harborview Elementary School teacher, said he went to the store to ask White questions about an incident where a 12-year-old boy was asked earlier in the week to leave the store. According to police reports, the boy's father had gone to the store to question the action and was given a criminal trespass notice.

Hiltner told police after the incident that White "lost it" when he asked if White directed the boy to leave because the youth was Native, according to court records.

He sustained a dislocated shoulder in the incident and it hasn't been healing as well as he would like, he said Thursday. He will ask for restitution for medical expenses to be included in the sentence, he said.

Hiltner said the reaction to his question surprised him. Police alleged that after White threw him against the wall, he got on top of him and punched him in the face.

"He pleaded guilty to assault," Hiltner said. "I don't think he pleaded guilty to anything beyond that." He said he never got to know White and has no idea if he is racist.

He said that with the trial behind him, he wants to concentrate on healing from the physical and emotional injuries from the incident. "We want to continue to advocate for kids and the community," he said.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.



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