Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, October 23, 2005

Troopers arrest Palmer fugitive

ANCHORAGE - A 19-year-old state prisoner on the lam after being allowed to attend his father's funeral was recaptured.

The Alaska Fugitive Task Force arrested John Pearl Smith II of Palmer Friday night at a Wasilla home.

Smith was wanted on six felony warrants for violating conditions of his release. Smith escaped Oct. 14.

He had been awaiting trial on charges that include kidnapping, assault, arson and robbery. He was charged with the September 2004 armed robbery of a 45-year-old man at the man's home.

Troopers said Smith and two other men stole guns, cash and jewelry and took the man's pickup truck to a bank to steal money using his automatic teller card. The pickup truck was found torched.

Smith's father, John "Junkman John" Smith, died Oct. 8 at age 62. The younger Smith's lawyer asked the state to allow the teenager to leave Mat-Su Pre-Trial to attend the funeral.

Judge Beverly Cutler did not require a court officer to accompany Smith. Instead, she appointed Smith's mother as his third-party custodian and required him to wear an electronic monitor, an ankle bracelet with a global positioning unit attached.

Smith read a tribute to his father at a memorial service. His mother, Christine Ace, told authorities she stepped into the bathroom after the service and Smith fled. Troopers said he cut the ankle bracelet off.

Smith was jailed with bail set at $275,000, troopers said.

College president receives AFN award

FAIRBANKS - The president of Ilisagvik College in Barrow has been named co-winner of the Citizen of the Year Award by the Alaska Federation of Natives.

Edna MacLean shares the award with Joseph Upickson, an Inupiaq leader who died of lung cancer this year.

MacLean was cheered Friday by a large contingent of Arctic Slope Regional Corp. and North Slope Borough representatives.

"The community raised me well," she said of her hometown of Barrow.

MacLean has been president of Ilisagvik College since 1995. She earned a doctorate from Stanford University and twice has been named AFN's Educator of the Year.

She was a tenured professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She has published extensively on Inupiaq language and culture. She also wrote an Inupiaq-English dictionary.

Gas line negotiations' legality questioned

ANCHORAGE - At the same time Gov. Frank Murkowski was announcing an agreement on "base terms" with a major oil company on a natural gas pipeline, his Natural Resources commissioner was questioning its legality and the liability for state employees working on it.

DNR Commissioner Tom Irwin said in a memorandum released Friday night that legal questions surrounding gas pipeline negotiations are so great, they could force resignations from the state's gas pipeline team.

Irwin's five-page memo to Attorney General David Marquez said he and his staff have been put in a "work environment where they seriously question the legality of administrative actions" taken toward achieving a deal with three North Slope oil producers.

His memo asked whether he and his staff members were being asked by the Murkowski administration to break the law by continuing to negotiate a state gas line contract with the oil companies that might run counter to the state's best financial interests.

Woman sentenced for ramming jail

FAIRBANKS - A 29-year-old mother who tried to free a prisoner by ramming the Fairbanks jail with a front-end loader was sentenced to four years in prison.

Misty Hoffman was sentenced to seven years in prison with three suspended Friday for her part in a conspiracy to break out prisoner Randy Watson, 30.

Hoffman's sentence is the stiffest judgment so far among the six people charged in connection with the plot. Two defendants have not been sentenced. One died before going to trial.

Hoffman stole the front-end loader from University Redi-Mix early Nov. 20 and drove about a mile to Fairbanks Correctional Center, according to Alaska State Troopers. The correctional center holds both sentenced prisoners and people facing charges.

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