State Briefs

Posted: Sunday, October 13, 2002

Coin toss settles Valdez City Council race

VALDEZ - A coin toss has determined the newest member of the Valdez City Council after two candidates got tangled in a tie. The winner is challenger Bill Crump, who correctly called "tails" to beat incumbent Bob Leisy.

Mayor Bert Cottle flipped a 1999 Kennedy half dollar to determine the winner. The toss took place Oct. 3 in council chambers after two recounts confirmed that both men finished with 471 votes each.

The two recounts also confirmed that Melodie Mackey edged Marilyn Leahy by just two votes to win a seat on the Valdez School Board. Mackey picked up 431 votes and Leahy had 429.

The municipal code says the city council can determine the winner of tied elections by any method it chooses: pull a name out of a hat, flip a coin, and so on.

Appeals court overturns attempted-murder conviction

ANCHORAGE - The state Court of Appeals on Friday overturned an attempted murder conviction against Evan Ramsey, who went on a shooting spree at Bethel High School that left two dead in the February 1997 shooting

The court upheld Ramsey's conviction on two counts of first-degree murder and 15 counts of third-degree assault. Ramsey was 16 when he brought a shotgun to the school and killed Principal Ron Edwards and fellow student Josh Palacios. He was sentenced to 210 years in prison.

The court rejected the charge that Ramsey had attempted to kill two students injured in the shotgun blast that killed Palacios.

State attorneys argued that the law must show only that Ramsey intended to kill and that there was a death - and link the injuries to the same shot.

The court ruled that using that argument could lead to charges of attempted murder of everyone in the school. The court returned the case to the lower court to re-sentence Ramsey under the remaining convictions.

Man arrested in Anchorage shooting

ANCHORAGE - An 18-year-old Anchorage man is in custody, accused of shooting another man in the legs. Xavier L. Benson is charged with felony eluding, assault and misconduct involving a weapon in connection with the shooting Thursday night. He is being held $30,000 dollars bail.

Police identified the wounded man as Randy E. McDaniel Jr., 19. He was dropped off Thursday night at Alaska Regional Hospital with bullet wounds in his thighs.

McDaniel was apparently the driver of a Blazer whose occupants exchanged gunfire with occupants in a U-Haul truck in East Anchorage, police said.

About an hour later, officers at the scene noticed a truck matching the description and tried to pull it over, but the vehicle took off. Police eventually caught up to the truck, and found a gun inside. Benson was driving the U-Haul.

Coast Guard suspends search for missing boaters

ANCHORAGE - The Coast Guard on Saturday suspended its search for two men missing after an emergency signal was issued from a 48-foot fishing boat off the southwestern tip of the Kenai Peninsula.

The Coast Guard stopped searching for Mark DiMichele of Seward and Pat Thibault, originally from New Hampshire, after determining their chances of survival were extremely low.

The decision was made after the Coast Guard on Saturday conducted a shoreline search in the area where the Shenandoah turned up missing.

A helicopter search Friday turned up debris from the boat but not the missing men, said Lt. Michele Schaillip with the Coast Guard in Juneau.

The Coast Guard was alerted to a problem at about 1:30 a.m. Friday when an emergency radio signal from the Shenandoah was picked up by the command center in Juneau.

The Shenandoah had been towing another boat, the Mary J, from Homer to Seward through 20-foot seas and winds gusting to more than 60 mph when the alert was sent, said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Marsha Delaney.

Through late Friday afternoon, rescuers aboard a Coast Guard C-130 airplane and two HH-60 Jayhawk helicopters had not found the crew or the Shenandoah in an area near the Chugach Islands, about 160 miles from Anchorage.

A helicopter crew dispatched from Kodiak discovered a life raft and floating debris about 5 a.m. near Chugach Bay. A rescue swimmer from the helicopter found no one on the raft.

A few hours later, other rescuers found two life jackets floating in the water, and another 15 life jackets farther up the bay. They located the Mary J aground at the mouth of Windy Bay about 10:30 a.m., upright and apparently in good shape, Delaney said.

The vessel was still rigged for towing, but the tow line had broken.

Anchorage security guard accused of stealing

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage security officer is accused of taking sealed deposits while working for Pinkerton Security Services last year.

The FBI has charged William "Don" Petty, 25, with bank fraud in the loss of about $100,000 from several Anchorage-area restaurants. He was arrested Wednesday in Reno, Nev., the FBI said.

The alleged crimes took place during Petty's employment with Pinkerton between Sept. 1, 2001, and Nov. 1, 2001, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court.

Petty was responsible for nightly pickups of packaged deposit bags filled with cash, checks and daily receipts from local businesses. He would put the money in a secure drop box at a Key Bank storeroom on Benson Boulevard, according to the complaint. He retrieved the deposits each morning and delivered them to bank employees.

Businesses can deposit their own money into the drop box, but only Pinkerton employees have a key to retrieve them for the bank, the complaint said.

On Sept. 1, a business deposited $5,320.98, mostly cash, according to the complaint. But the bank said it never received the money.

The bank didn't receive $5,944.28 from a Taco Bell the next day or $5,511.33 on Oct. 26 from another business and so on through November, the complaint said. A total of $100,989.26 went missing from deposits made by Arby's, Taco Bell, Sea Galley, The Mail Cache and Pizza Hut.

The bank told authorities that money was missing, the FBI said.

A Pinkerton dispatcher keeps the only key to the depository and hands it over to the security guard, who picks up the money deposited overnight, according to the complaint. Petty worked on the evenings that the deposits went missing. He signed for money he received from Taco Bell on Oct. 26 and Nov. 3. Those deposits were later reported missing.

Petty told investigators that he took the deposit bags, removed cash, cut up the checks and the bags, then flushed some of the debris down a toilet at a gas station. He also said he threw some bags off an Eagle River bridge, the complaint said.

Soon after the interview, he disappeared, FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez said. Petty was tracked down in Reno.

Compiled from staff and wire service reports.



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