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Naked boat owner fends off intruder

Defendant says he broke into vessel in middle of the night to make friends with the man

Posted: Friday, November 11, 2005

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

  Russell "Josh" Peterson tells the story of how he held an intruder at gunpoint on his boat, the Seal, early Thursday morning in Aurora Harbor. Clay Homan Calabrese was arraigned in court on Thursday for the burglary.

A 41-year-old Juneau man said he was scared while standing naked on his boat using a shotgun to hold off a black-hooded intruder early Thursday, but not as much as later in the day when he heard the man "just wanted to be friends."

Russell "Josh" Peterson called Juneau police at 1:58 a.m., before he put his pants on, he said. Officers arrested 27-year-old Clay Homan Calabrese on a misdemeanor trespassing charge and lodged him at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center.

Peterson said he was sleeping naked on his 65-foot boat, the Seal, in Aurora Harbor, when the door opened and knocked over the keyboard resting atop the computer in his bedroom.

He jumped up and grabbed the short-barreled shotgun hanging near his bed to ward off the intruder, he said. He led the intruder off the boat and held him for police.

Wearing a jail uniform while appearing in Juneau District Court on the trespassing charge less than 12 hours later, Calabrese told Judge Keith Levy that he had "chatted online" with Peterson, who had told him about his boat. "I was trying to make friends with the guy."

When Levy asked Calabrese if he was aware of the details of the charge against him, the defendant pointed at the victim sitting in the audience. "That's him," he said before speaking directly toward Peterson. "That's your boat."

Court-appointed defenseattorney Tom Wagner entered not-guilty pleas on the misdemeanor charges of trespassing and tampering with property, as well as for charges of violating his conditions of pretrial release in another pending case. Levy scheduled a jury trial for January.

Calabrese said what Juneau police wrote about the incident was "not actually entirely accurate."

"I have a good explanation," Calabrese told the judge. "I was trying to introduce myself to him."

He said he first went to Peterson's boat at about 7 p.m., didn't get an answer, and went back later.

Levy warned Calabrese that he was saying things that could be used against him, but the defendant went on to explain that he had been banned from participating on an Internet chat site after using "swear words." He said he knew Peterson from the site.

Peterson said later that Calabrese, whom he only saw as a shadowy hooded figure on his boat, referred to him by the name he uses in the chat room.

"I'm glad I woke up," he said. His Alaska malamute, Miaku, was just wagging her tail at the intruder, he said.

He said he later found two cigarette butts and a puddle of urine on the deck, telling him the intruder was on the boat for at least 10 minutes before waking him up.

The incident gave Peterson a flashback to about 10 years ago, when he was the victim of an attempted robbery at a Mendenhall Valley coffee shop that he ran at the time, he said. That case ended with the two men being sent to prison.

"He never would tell me who he was," Peterson said of Calabrese. But while he was walking Calabrese off his boat, he said, "he kept turning around to talk."

Assistant City Attorney Robyn Carlisle asked Levy to set bail at $2,000 and require a third party to take responsibility for watching Calabrese if he is released. She said the defendant has 13 prior convictions, was on pretrial release on a criminal mischief charge and was on probation for three other city cases.

"This person was very frightening," she told the judge.

Levy set bail at $1,000 and required him to find a third party to watch him if he can raise the money.

Calabrese said that wasn't fair. "If I'm not guilty and I'm sitting in jail for two months, what do I get?" he asked.

After Carlisle and Wagner approached the judge, the courtroom officer led Calabrese out. Calabrese was still complaining about his bail.

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



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