Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Two arrested; marijuana seized

JUNEAU - State and city officers arrested a 49-year-old Juneau man on felony drug charges Tuesday after state wildlife enforcement officers seized about 16 pounds of marijuana from two packages shipped from California.

Alaska State Troopers reported that Arthur Ray Whitney was arrested on two counts of fourth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance. Members of the Southeast Alaska Narcotics Enforcement Team - SEANET - working in cooperation with Juneau Police apprehended Whitney after serving a search warrant on Northwood Drive in the Lemon Creek area.

Officers seized additional evidence at the home and also arrested 27-year-old Mathew Raymond Castillo on a charge of violating his probation, troopers reported.

The report estimated that 16 pounds of marijuana could be broken down into about 18,000 doses of the drug.

SEANET is a multiagency drug-enforcement task force comprised of state troopers and local officers in Southeast Alaska.

Ketchikan assembly won't release tapes

KETCHIKAN - The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly has voted against releasing tapes of an executive session to the Ketchikan Daily News.

Assembly member George Lybrand said Monday that according to borough code, such tapes cannot be released except by court order. He said the newspaper needs to file a lawsuit if it wants the tapes from the Aug. 15 closed session released.

At the Aug. 15 executive session, the Assembly discussed negotiations to sell borough-owned land at Ward Cove. The session included representatives of Renaissance Development Group, Ted Falconer and Capt. John Falvey of the Alaska Marine Highway System.

Assistant Borough Manager Steve Corporon decided not to release the tapes when asked by the newspaper.

According to the Daily News' appeal, the executive session was improper because private contractors were invited to participate, which turned the meeting into a "private negotiating session with a government body, from which the public was excluded, for the purchase of public land."

The Daily News appeal also cited a comment by Assembly member Mike Painter that nothing happened during the executive session that couldn't be made public.

Falvey and Jerry Jenkins of Renaissance have signed waivers stating they do not object to release of the executive session tape.

Wasilla man pleads not guilty to murder

ANCHORAGE - A Wasilla man has pleaded not guilty to murder charges in connection with the strangling deaths of his girlfriend and their infant son.

Christopher Kevan, 24, entered his plea Tuesday to two counts of first-degree murder, four counts of second-degree murder, and one count of second-degree assault.

Authorities allege Kevan strangled his girlfriend, Brandie L. Burns, 26, and their 7-week-old son, Ashton Burns, on October 25.

The assault charge stems from an Alaska State Trooper investigation in early October when Kevan allegedly injured the child.

Papa Pilgrim trial to start March 6

GLENNALLEN - The trial for a 64-year-old man accused of incest will start March 6, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Robert Hale, a self-styled mountain man who also is known as Papa Pilgrim, waived his right to a speedy trial.

Under state law, the trial should have started by Feb. 3, but Hale agreed to postpone it to allow public defender Holly Handler extra time to review evidence and to prepare his defense.

Judge Daniel Schally of Valdez was present in the Glennallen court room Tuesday along with the court recorder. All other participants were connected by telephone.

District Attorney Steve Wallace estimated the trial will take up to three weeks.

He has supplied the public defender's office with 700 pages of documents, two compact discs of pictures and many audiotapes. He also said physical evidence was available at the Alaska State Trooper's post in Palmer.

Hale was indicted Sept. 22 by a state grand jury in Palmer on 30 felony counts, including 10 counts of sexual assault, one count of kidnapping, eight counts of incest, eight counts of coercion, and three counts of assault.

The family includes 15 children but the indictment listed just one victim. Troopers said the alleged crimes covered eight years.

Authorities say Hale was on the lam for two weeks after being indicted before being arrested in Eagle River on Oct. 6.

The Hale family was best known for its running feud with the National Park Service over access to their property the 13.2 million-acre Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Family members claimed to be deeply religious and wanted to live off the land.

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