Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, August 10, 2007

Sitka man guilty in child porn case

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JUNEAU - A Sitka man pleaded guilty to four charges related to child pornography, including distribution, Thursday in U.S. District Court in Anchorage.

Johnny Bell Jr., 44, faces up to 30 years for distribution of child pornography through a Yahoo news group, and two attempts to receive child pornography in 2005. Authorities also found DVDs containing child pornography at Bell's home.

Sentencing was set for Dec. 4 in Anchorage.

Hiker drowns off trail near Anchorage

ANCHORAGE - A hiker slipped while crossing a river on a popular hiking trail near Anchorage and apparently drowned, Alaska State Troopers said.

Troopers were not able to immediately identify the man, in part because his backpack, with his identification, was lost Wednesday in the fast-moving Eagle River.

A trooper helicopter crew was able to recover the body, trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters said.

The victim had been hiking with another man along the popular Chugach State Park trail from Girdwood to the Eagle River Nature Center, Peters said. She said she did not know when, how or why the man slipped and went under.

The man's hiking companion was able to recover his body after it was carried downstream and became tangled in some tree branches hanging low over the water.

Peters said the companion tried but failed to revive the drowning victim.

Thirty minutes after his body was brought on shore, another hiking party of up to four members came upon the survivor and the dead man, Peters said.

Some of the hikers then reached the Eagle River Nature Center, at about Mile 12 of Eagle River Road, sometime before noon Wednesday and phoned Anchorage police, who called troopers.

Man electrocuted while working on yacht

WHITTIER - A Wasilla man was electrocuted while working on a yacht, Whittier police said.

The body of 54-year-old Timothy Wetherhorn was found Tuesday night on the Nordic Mistress, a 57-foot yacht moored at the Cliffside Marina.

Wetherhorn had been hired by the yacht's Anchorage owner to do electrical work, Whittier Police Chief Robert Haskell said.

Haskell said no one witnessed the electrocution.

Police say Wetherhorn's body was found in an under-deck compartment near the rear of the vessel that contains electrical assemblies. No water was in the compartment.

Instead, police say Wetherhorn had been working on a power coupling and "apparently made contact with one of the hot wires."

The power supply had not been shut off before Wetherhorn went to work on the coupling, Haskell said.

Man indicted in woman's death

PALMER - A man who led police on a chase down the Glenn Highway with a corpse in his back seat has been indicted on murder charges.

Frank Adams, 45, was indicted Wednesday on one count each of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter and tampering with evidence in the death of Stacey Johnston, Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said Thursday.

Officials said the 42-year-old woman had a domestic violence restraining order against Adams.

Adams' bail was set at $200,000. Arraignment was set for Monday at the Palmer courthouse.

Palmer police had tried to stop Adams July 28 after receiving reports that he had been seen staggering out of a gas station store. Adams led officers on a chase down the Glenn Highway toward Anchorage before his arrest.

Police found Johnston's body after they made the stop.

Adams went on trial in the 1970s in a notorious murder-for-hire case involving an Air Force colonel in Eagle River.

According to news accounts at the time, Daniel Cassell hired Adams to murder his adoptive father, Col. Robert Cassell.

The price? Two-thousand dollars, a fancy chess set, a trip to New York and the dead man's car.

Adams, who was 16 at the time, testified that he and a 14-year-old accomplice beat the colonel with a tire iron, stabbed him and slashed his throat.

Adams was tried as a juvenile and sentenced to two years at the McLaughlin Youth Center.

U.S., Russia to meet on polar bear hunting

ANCHORAGE - A new treaty between Russia and the United States sets up an agreement for subsistence hunting of polar bears that roam between the two countries. Now wildlife managers have to figure out how to do so in some of the world's wildest territory.

Wildlife scientists and representatives of indigenous populations met this week to decide how best to advise a new commission that will oversee subsistence hunting of polar bears in the Alaska-Chukotka region.

The treaty covers only one of four groups of bears in Russia and one of two in Alaska, not including Alaska's better known and studied bear population, the Southern Beaufort Sea population, which roams off its north coast and into Canada.

Both Russia and the United States already have strict polar bear laws.

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