State Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Church burgled, damaged, little taken

JUNEAU - The Juneau Christian Center sustained $2,000 in structural damage when someone broke into the building Monday night, police said.

A janitor reported the burglary at about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Juneau Christian Center school administrator Richard Burns said today the burglar kicked-in several interior doors and used a crowbar to break into other doors at the school and church, which are in one complex.

Burns said the center wasn't vandalized, but the burglar stole about $30. He said since a rash of burglaries three years ago at the church, administrators don't keep money on-site and removed the safe.

"It was clear the person was looking for money," said Burns. "Whoever did this went through file cabinets and broke into anything that was locked, but left all of our electronic equipment."

Burns said the church is considering how to upgrade its security system.

How to get a North Pole postmark

ANCHORAGE - The U.S. Postal Service says customers wanting a North Pole postmark on their holiday cards and letters are facing a Dec. 15 deadline.

To receive a North Pole postmark, customers should buy stamps at any post office and affix them to the envelopes. The letters should be placed in a larger envelope addressed to North Pole Christmas Cancellation, Postmaster, 5400 Mail Trail, Fairbanks, AK 99709-9999.

The envelopes must arrive in Fairbanks by Dec. 15 so that the North Pole postmark can be processed.

State to recount ballots in House race

ANCHORAGE - Nonpartisan state House hopeful Pat Abney has requested a recount of ballots in her 37-vote defeat to Republican Mike Hawker in the Nov. 5 general election.

The state elections division agreed to conduct the recount on Friday morning for free because Hawker's margin of victory of 37 votes was just 0.48 percent of the total votes cast in the race, said division spokeswoman Virginia Breeze. A margin of more than 0.5 percent would have required Abney to pay $750 for a recount.

The deadline for recount requests was Monday evening.

Abney is a retired teacher and former Anchorage Assembly member. She took on Hawker, an accountant, in House District 32, which includes the Anchorage Hillside.

Charge reduced in flight disruption

ANCHORAGE - Federal prosecutors have reduced the charge against a Texas man who claimed to be a terrorist on a flight to Tokyo and allegedly threatened the flight crew last month. The flight was diverted to Anchorage.

Matthew Leggett, 42, of Houston was arrested Nov. 21 and charged with interfering with a flight crew, a felony.

Defense attorney Mary Geddes said in court Tuesday that the change to a misdemeanor charge of simple assault was filed in anticipation of a plea agreement.

Investigators said Leggett got drunk on a Northwest Flight from Minneapolis to Tokyo. He then threatened people after a bottle of cognac was taken away from him. Pilots persuaded him to sit down by giving the bottle back, according to an FBI affidavit.

Leggett faces a maximum of six months in prison, a $5,000 fine and five years of probation. If convicted, he may owe tens of thousands of dollars in restitution to Northwest for fuel and other costs, said federal prosecutor Karen Loeffler.

Leggett remains at Cook Inlet Pre-Trial Facility.

Fairbanks school board member unhappy with recruiting policy

FAIRBANKS - Not every one is happy with the new federal policy concerning students and military recruiters.

One Fairbanks North Star Borough School District member wants the board to ask Congress to repeal the law. Royce Chapman believes the new policy is an invasion of privacy.

The new policy is part of the No Child Left Behind Act. It would allow recruiters on school grounds for recruitment activities, and gives them access to students' names, addresses and phone numbers.

The board is scheduled to meet again Dec. 10.

Judge refuses to reduce bail

KENAI - A Kenai Superior Court judge has again refused to reduce the bail of a man charged with the attempted murder and sexual assault of a Soldotna woman.

Judge Jonathan Link ruled Monday that Justin A. Starkweather is a flight risk and a danger to the community. The judge declined to reduce Starkweather's $250,000 cash bail.

Cynthia Strout, an Anchorage attorney who is now representing Starkweather, said she proposed the bail amount be reduced and that her client be released to the custody of Starkweather's grandmother, with the requirement that he wear an electronic monitoring device.

Starkweather is charged with first-degree attempted murder, first-degree sexual assault, first-degree assault, first-degree burglary and fourth-degree theft in connection with an alleged attack on the woman Feb. 2.

The victim was found severely beaten, District Attorney Dwayne McConnell said in an earlier bail hearing.

Starkweather's trial is set for the end of March.

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