Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Grand jury hands down rape indictment

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JUNEAU - A Sitka man has been indicted on charges that he tried to rape an acquaintance, police said Tuesday.

James Luckart, 18, was indicted Thursday by a Juneau grand jury on charges of attempted sexual assault in the first degree, assault in the third degree and assault in the fourth degree, according to court documents.

According to police and court documents, Luckart tried to force a woman to having sex with him by placing tape over her nose and mouth and threatening to suffocate her.

Police declined to give any more detail about the incident, citing further court action. Luckart remained Tuesday in a Sitka jail awaiting transport to Lemon Creek Correctional Center.

Teen pleads no contest in murder

ANCHORAGE - A teenager pleaded no contest to charges of raping and killing his stepmother and stuffing her body in the family freezer.

Colin Cotting, 18, faces 22 years to 139 years in prison for sexual assault and murder, said his lawyer, Paul Maslakowski, in a telephone interview after Monday's proceeding in Superior Court.

Eight other charges were dropped in an agreement with the district attorney's office one week before Cotting's trial was scheduled to begin.

Cotting is expected to be sentenced in mid-February.

Cotting was 16 years old when he killed Carol Cotting, 42, on Oct. 17, 2004.

Prosecutors say Cotting and his stepmother got into a fight when he showed up at her house high on marijuana. The teen told police he wrestled with his stepmother and at some point she fell down the stairs. He told investigators he may have hit her with a baseball bat.

Cotting was arrested as a juvenile but automatically waived into adult court in keeping with Alaska law.

Court blocks sale of old-growth timber

GRANTS PASS, Ore. - A federal appeals court has blocked two old growth timber sales in southwestern Oregon after finding the U.S. Bureau of Land Management illegally downgraded protections for the red tree vole to make them possible.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco found Monday that the BLM failed to conduct a public review before changing the classification of the red tree vole, a small rodent that lives in the treetops of old growth forests, under the "survey and manage" provisions of the Northwest Forest Plan.

"If BLM can modify the protection afforded a species under a resource management plan as dramatically as it has here ... BLM could ultimately remove all the Survey and Manage designations without ever conducting another (environmental assessment) or (environmental impact statement), and without providing public disclosure," Judge Dorothy Nelson wrote.

The Northwest Forest Plan cut timber harvests on federal lands west of the Cascade Range in Oregon, Washington and Northern California by more than 80 percent to protect habitat for the threatened northern spotted owl, salmon and hundreds of other species. BLM has been much more aggressive than the U.S. Forest Service in trying to reach the timber harvest goals, which have never been met.

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