Two plead guilty to assaulting a Juneau cab driver

Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2001

Two defendants pleaded guilty Tuesday in Juneau Superior Court to assaulting a local cab driver but said they had a reason for the attack.

Michelle Gillette, 22, and Richard Carle, 33, were accused of robbing and beating a cab driver in a downtown parking lot Sept. 2. Carle claimed the driver sexually assaulted Gillette, which spurred the attack.

Gillette and Carle pleaded guilty to lesser charges of misdemeanor assault and misdemeanor criminal mischief.

Gillette was charged originally with felony robbery and misdemeanor criminal mischief, and Carle was charged with felony robbery and felony criminal mischief. The robbery charges were dropped as part of the plea agreement.

Superior Court Judge Larry Weeks sentenced Carle to two years in prison with 18 months suspended, and two years of probation.

Gillette will be sentenced Jan. 4, 2002.

Weeks said he believed Carle thought his girlfriend had been assaulted, but it wasn't an excuse for the attack.

"You can't take the law into your own hands," Weeks said. "Without a process we would degenerate into nothing but a people doing violent things to each other because they wanted to. ... No matter how bad the act, you just can't do things yourself."

Assistant District Attorney Dave Brower provided the factual basis for the charges in court Tuesday.

He said Carle got into a Metro Taxi and accused the driver of having sex with his girlfriend. Carle allegedly told the driver he owed Carle money for the act. Carle then began choking the cab driver.

Brower said Gillette came to the cab driver's window, grabbed him by the hair, scratched his face and began slapping him. The cab driver tried to pick up the cab's radio to call for help but Carle tore it from the dashboard. Gillette and Carle then left the scene. Brower alleged Carle stole $200 from the cab driver's pocket as he left.

But Carle's attorney, Philip Pallenberg, said that a week before the incident the cab driver had given Gillette a ride home. When Carle got home later that night, he found the driver in his living room and Gillette passed out on the bed with her pants undone, Pallenberg said. Carle threw the cab driver out of the apartment and phoned the police.

Pallenberg said that because Gillette wasn't reporting the alleged rape, police said they wouldn't respond to the complaint. Gillette and Carle then made the decision to find the cab driver, Pallenberg said.

Brower said that during an interview with police the cab driver denied sexually assaulting Gillette.

Melanie Plenda can be reached at mplenda@juneauempire.com.



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