State Briefs

Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2003

USS McClusky to visit Juneau for July 4

JUNEAU - The U.S. Navy guided-missile frigate USS McClusky will visit Juneau during the Independence Day weekend.

The USS McClusky is expected to arrive in Juneau on the morning of Wednesday, July 2, and depart Monday, July 7.

The 453-foot McClusky is based in San Diego, Calif., and carries a crew of 17 officers and 198 enlisted personnel. The ship is visiting Juneau in response to a request submitted by U.S. Naval Forces Alaska for a U.S. Navy vessel visit during the July 4 holiday.

The USS McClusky is an anti-submarine warfare combatant for amphibious expeditionary forces, underway replenishment and merchant convoys.

The Navy commissioned the ship Dec. 10, 1983. The McClusky is named after Rear Adm. Clarence Wade McClusky, who became an aviation hero of World War II and Chief of Staff for the Seventh Fleet operations during the Korean War.

Information regarding public ship visits will be provided as soon as it becomes available. For more information, visit

Police ID man found dead in Fairbanks

FAIRBANKS - Fairbanks police have identified the man who died at a transient camp near the Richardson Highway on Sunday.

He was George Lane Tuckfield, 48, of Point Lay.

Bert P. Coates, 26, was charged Monday with second-degree murder in connection with Tuckfield's death.

Fairbanks Detective Randy Coffey said Tuckfield died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck.

Coates reported finding Tuckfield's body on Fort Wainwright land near the first highway overpass on the highway.

Coates first told police that he had spent Saturday night at a motel and returned to the camp Sunday to find Tuckfield dead. Later, Coates told police that Tuckfield had touched him inappropriately.

Coffey said Coates told investigators he felt that he had been sexually abused by Tuckfield, whom Coates called "Uncle George." Coffey said the two were related, but he was unsure how.

Coates told police he knocked Tuckfield down and stomped on his head and face three or four times, then sat on his face, documents said.

Appeals Court denies heat-of-passion defense

FAIRBANKS - The Alaska Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of a Fairbanks woman sentenced to 10 years in prison for trying to kill her former lover, rejecting her claim that she should have been allowed to use a "heat-of-passion" defense.

Jana Dandova, 52, was found guilty two years ago of attempted murder in the 1999 shooting of Craig Schumacher, with whom she had a son in 1993.

Dandova and Schumacher engaged in a bitter 1997 custody trial over the child, and the judge ultimately awarded them joint custody.

Dandova fled with the child to Canada, but a year later, Canadian authorities located her and returned her son to Schumacher. Dandova returned to Alaska to fight for custody and face trial on a charge of custodial interference.

A first trial on the interference charge resulted in a hung jury. Dandova was out on bail awaiting a retrial when, on Sept. 29, 1999, she fired multiple shots at Schumacher as he drove away from his lawyer's office.

Schumacher was struck by a bullet that passed through his shoulder and into his neck.

During her trial for attempted murder, Dandova sought to defend herself based on a "heat-of-passion" argument - that she wasn't thinking straight because of Schumacher's provocative actions over a long period of time.

Superior Court Judge Charles Pengilly ruled that Dandova was not entitled to use the defense because Schumacher had not done enough to anger her on the day of the crime. She was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison with 20 suspended.

In her appeal, Dandova argued that Pengilly needed to consider the full scope of Schumacher's behavior over a period of years.

Denali National Park to hold fall road lottery

DENALI NATIONAL PARK - The Denali National Park and Preserve will hold its 2003 road lottery from Sept. 12-15, the National Park Service said.

The annual lottery takes place after the park's shuttle buses stop running, permitting up to 400 private vehicles each day to drive the length of the park road.

"September is a wonderful time to visit this magnificent park," said Superintendent Paul Anderson. "The fall colors can be superb, and wildlife viewing opportunities are at their peak as the animals prepare for winter."

To enter, a self-addressed, stamped, business-sized envelope must be sent to Road Lottery, Denali National Park and Preserve, P.O. Box 9, Denali Park, AK., 99755.

A full name and complete mailing address should be included on the envelope. Choices for dates, in order of preference, should be written on the front of the envelope in the lower right-hand corner. The envelope should not contain a letter.

Lottery entries must be postmarked sometime from July 1 through July 31. A random drawing will be held during the first week in August. Winners will be notified by mail.

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