Alaska Digest

Posted: Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Jury finds Lawson guilty of murder

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ANCHORAGE - A murder trial in which the defendant admitted killing the victim - whose remains were present in the courtroom - ended Monday with a handcuffed Michael Lawson walking out of the courtroom grinning, convicted on two charges of second-degree murder.

Lawson, 49, was expressionless as the judge read the jury's verdict, which also convicted him of tampering with evidence in the May 3, 2003, death of Bethany Correira, a 21-year-old college student who had just moved to Anchorage from Talkeetna.

"I just wanted justice to be done, and I think it was done," said Correira's mother, Linda. "I was hoping for a little bit more, but I'm satisfied ... It's been very difficult. I'm glad it's come to an end."

The jury deadlocked on other counts, including first-degree murder, kidnapping and arson, which didn't faze the family.

"As long as the job is accomplished, he's not going to be able to hurt anyone in the future. That's the main issue," said her father, Bill. "To me it was pretty obvious."

He said he brought Correira's cremated remains, which were contained in her favorite backpack, to be there for the verdict.

Prosecutor Sharon Marshall said the two second-degree murder counts were offered as differing theories about the motivation for the killing but will be only treated as one conviction for sentencing purposes.

Correira came to Anchorage to attend college, moving into a west-side apartment complex where Lawson worked as a manager. She was hired to clean apartments there, but a week after arriving, she disappeared.

Correira was first reported missing May 4, 2003, when her mother showed up to take her shopping at garage sales.

A massive search ensued, with Anchorage police along with friends and family posting fliers and scouring a 70-mile area, stretching from Palmer to Anchorage to Girdwood. A $40,000 reward was offered, but after about a month, the intensive search abated.

Lawson's brother, Robert Lawson, led police to Correira's grave in a gravel pit near Talkeetna, about 85 miles north of Anchorage a year later.

Homer makes listof best towns in U.S.

ANCHORAGE - Homer has made the list of best towns nationwide.

National Geographic Adventure magazine in its September issue asks the question: What are the best places to live, play and seek adventure?

Homer made the list of best wilderness towns, meaning they offer access to forests, canyons, swamps, grasslands, prairies and other wild places.

Others on the list are Cody, Wyo.; Flagstaff, Ariz.; Valdosta, Ga.; Medora, N.D.; Rochester, Minn.; Alexandria, La.; Valentine, Neb., and St. George, Utah.

The magazine also came up with lists for the best small towns, best mountain towns and best waterfront towns.

Best small towns on the list are Iowa City, Iowa; Fayetteville, W.Va., Spearfish, S.D.; Bloomington, Ind.; Northampton, Mass.; Lynchburg, Va.; Marietta, Ohio; Bowling Green, Ky.; Chatsworth, N.J.; Hot Springs, Ark.; and Smyrna, Del.

Best mountain towns are Bishop, Calif.; Gunnison, Colo.; Missoula, Mont.; Hanover, N.H.; Wenatchee, Wash.; Hood River, Ore.; Boone, N.C.; Jim Thorpe, Pa.; Montpelier, Vt.; and New Paltz, N.Y.

Best waterfront towns are Waimea, Hawaii; Fond du Lac, Wis.; Newport, R.I.; Rockland, Maine; Mystic, Conn.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Annapolis, Md; Beaufort, S.C., and Lewiston, Idaho.

Stream cleanupeffort to be expanded

FAIRBANKS - Organizers of the annual Noyes Slough cleanup near downtown Fairbanks are expanding the effort this year.

The event, scheduled for Aug. 25, will be used to promote a new Adopt-A-Stream program, which encourages community groups and residents to voluntarily monitor water quality and fish and wildlife habitat.

One of the program's goals is to keep waterways free of litter, partly by teaching neighbors the drawbacks of placing lawn clippings, pet droppings or other items on or near stream banks, said Nancy Ihlenfeldt, board member of the Tanana Valley Watershed Association.

Directors at the nonprofit watershed association and other organizers of the upcoming Stream Clean Up Day are asking volunteers to help clean the Noyes Slough, but are also inviting people to clean any waterway around Fairbanks.

Organizers will have 10 canoes at the Noyes Slough. They are also stocking fire stations around Fairbanks with trash bags, said Helena Byard, an engineer with the city of Fairbanks. Eight litter drop-off points will be stationed around the community.

Byard said organizers have identified a few potential trouble spots along the Noyes Slough. Organizers are looking for experienced canoeists who can travel in chest waders to get past beaver dams and log piles while cleaning, she said.

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