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Convicted sex offender returned to Alaska jail

Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2009

KETCHIKAN - A convicted sex offender who failed to appear at his sentencing last year has been captured in Mexico and returned to an Alaska jail, the U.S. Marshals Service said.

Tracy Swisher, 35, of Mossyrock, Wash., is being held without bail in Ketchikan while he waits for next month's sentencing in Craig. Mossyrock is about 50 miles southeast of Olympia, Wash.

Swisher was caught last month in Sonora, Mexico, where he acknowledged to police that he had been renting a room under an assumed name, District Attorney Stephen West said.

A Ketchikan grand jury indicted Swisher more than two years ago on a charge of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor. Swisher pleaded innocent and remained free on $10,000 bail, according to court records.

A three-day trial in January 2008 concluded with a jury convicting Swisher of sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl during a camping trip on Prince of Wales Island.

As a first-time felony offender, Swisher faced a five-to-15-year prison sentence. Swisher remained free while West and Ketchikan Public Defender Diane Thoben sparred in written briefs over whether Swisher deserved a sentence of less than the minimum.

Oral arguments on the topic were to occur at an April 28, 2008, sentencing hearing in Ketchikan, but Swisher didn't show up. Thoben told Superior Court Judge Michael Thompson that she hadn't been able to contact Swisher but thought he was in Washington State, the Ketchikan Daily News reported.

Swisher was charged with failing to appear for sentencing. He was arrested on that accusation in Mexico, and turned over to American authorities at the border.

West, at a hearing last week, successfully argued that Swisher should be held without bail until an Aug. 24 hearing, noting that he has proven to be a flight risk.



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