Slasher's plea will suppress sex charges

St. Clair faces 99 years in prison after entering guilty plea in attempted murder

Posted: Sunday, October 24, 2004

Aaron St. Clair Jr.'s guilty plea to attempted first-degree murder could get him up to 99 years in prison, Juneau Superior Court Judge Larry Weeks told him Friday.

But the plea will keep St. Clair from being charged in unrelated rape or child-molesting investigations that authorities revealed Friday, prosecutors said.

St. Clair, 21, had been scheduled to stand trial next week in the Jan. 7 slashing robbery of Juneau Taxi driver Eric Drake, but he entered a guilty plea Friday.

Weeks set aside the entire day of Jan. 21, 2005, for St. Clair's sentencing hearing. Weeks ordered St. Clair to continue to be held without bail.

When Weeks asked St. Clair on Friday how he wanted to plead to the most serious charge in his indictment, the defendant paused for two seconds before answering "guilty."

Assistant District Attorney Doug Gardner told Weeks the state agreed to dismiss charges of first-degree assault, first-degree robbery and tampering with evidence. He also said the state agreed not to prosecute St. Clair in seven open cases in which Juneau police considered St. Clair a suspect.

Three of the case numbers Gardner listed relate to investigations into possible sex crimes, according to police spokesman Lt. Jerry Nankervis. One includes allegations of first-degree sexual assault and second-degree sexual abuse of a minor. Two cases allege second-degree sexual abuse of minors.

Three other cases allege felony property crimes - first-degree conspiracy to commit robbery, second-degree robbery and second-degree burglary. Another case could have led to a misdemeanor charge of fourth-degree criminal mischief, Nankervis said.

The numbers assigned to the cases show police opened four as recently as September, the latest being opened within the last week. Two of the cases were opened in 2003.

St. Clair has been in custody since Feb. 4, when police arrested him with his 19-year-old wife, Violet St. Clair, who pleaded guilty to first-degree conspiracy to commit robbery.

She is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 23. Originally, she was charged with first-degree robbery and first-degree assault - accused of placing the telephone call for a cab that night and sitting next to Drake during the attack.

Outside of court Friday, Drake said he will testify at the sentencing about his last night driving a cab 912 months ago, when he was attacked by a knife-wielding man. Drake said he would have liked to see everything come out at trial.

"But I'm happy to get it over with," he added. "The truth finally caught up with him."

The assailant, attacking him from behind, cut his throat and stabbed him numerous times. Attempts to grab the knife led to severe cuts on Drake's hands. Of the eight hours he spent in surgery, more than six were devoted to repairing his hands.

A man and woman escaped that night with $60 from Drake's wallet, according to court records.

Jim Jackson, St. Clair's stepfather, said outside of court that he had been looking forward to the truth coming out at trial.

"I don't believe he did it," Jackson said.

Jackson said his stepson told him two weeks ago that he didn't do it. Jackson didn't believe authorities had the evidence to prove the case.

"I know he didn't do it," his mother, Vera Jackson, said. "He doesn't have a violent bone in his body."

The Jacksons said Violet St. Clair had made a deal and would have said anything the prosecution wanted her to.

Weeks had not ruled on a motion by Gardner seeking to allow Violet St. Clair's testimony. The motion had been opposed by Aaron St. Clair's attorney, Assistant Public Defender David Seid.

Drake said he has no question it was Aaron St. Clair who attacked him.

"I know it every time he looks at me," Drake said.

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