Rowcroft charged with threatening to kill witness

Posted: Tuesday, November 04, 2003

A woman who allegedly tried to leave Alaska to avoid testifying against the man charged in last year's $100,000 Juneau Kmart heist says the man threatened to kill her.

The prosecution is scheduled this morning to begin its first-degree theft case against Frank Brian Rowcroft, a former security chief at the now-closed Juneau Kmart. Monday, Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins swore in 14 jurors, including two alternates to be randomly chosen at the end of the trial.

Rowcroft, who actively worked with his attorney, Louis Menendez, during questioning of prospective jurors, posted $10,000 bond for his release from jail after his arrest Friday on two new felony charges alleging interference with official proceedings.

He is accused of taking $99,980 in cash, checks and credit card receipts from the store's cash cage during a staged black-out in the early hours of March 31, 2002. He was arrested by Skagway police after a U.S. Customs agent reportedly found more than $30,000 in a car Rowcroft had attempted to drive into Canada.

Two Juneau residents, a man and a woman, who were subpoenaed by the prosecution to testify at this week's trial were detained Friday on material-witness warrants after arriving in Bellingham, Wash., on one-way Alaska Marine Highway ferry tickets with their car and three children, Juneau court records show.

By the end of the day, Juneau police arrested Rowcroft on the two new charges. The complaint specifically alleges that Rowcroft had threatened the woman during two telephone conversations in 2002 in April and December.

Assistant District Attorney Doug Gardner swore out the affidavit stating probable cause for Rowcroft's arrest Friday. He also is prosecuting Rowcroft on the theft charge.

He wrote that both the man and the woman detained in Washington said they had seen Rowcroft on the morning of the Kmart theft with the keys to the cash cage.

He added that he has received notice of a possible alibi defense, which the two witnesses could dispute. Both were interviewed by Juneau police and testified before the grand jury that indicted Rowcroft, he said.

They also were interviewed by Bellingham and Juneau police Friday, leading to new charges. Gardner wrote the woman revealed Rowcroft "had called her on several occasions and threatened to kill her."

Menendez could not be reached for comment on the new allegations Monday afternoon.

In court earlier in the day, both Menendez and Gardner asked prospective jurors how they would consider testimony concerning actions and statements made long after the crime had taken place. Collins has ruled that the prosecution will be able to introduce allegedly incriminating documents found in Rowcroft's possession after he called police to report he had been shot at his home in Sept. 2002.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.



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