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A 21-year-old Sitka man released from Lemon Creek Correctional Center on Tuesday allegedly stole a van just a block from the prison and lasted only two hours on the street.
David Mulligan, after finishing his court-ordered jail time in a misdemeanor drunken driving case, appeared later in the day in front of another judge on a felony charge of first-degree vehicle theft.
The 1997 Dodge van that troopers found him in was reported stolen at 7:03 a.m. from Lemon Creek Road, according to Juneau Police reports. The state prison booking office reported Mulligan had been released at 7 a.m.
"I have no clue what they're talking about," Mulligan told Juneau Judge Keith Levy, who asked him Tuesday afternoon if he understood the new charge.
Owners of the van called police on a cell phone at 9 a.m. to report they were following their stolen vehicle in traffic on Industrial Boulevard, police reported. Troopers stopped the van at 9:10 a.m. on the back of Mendenhall Loop Road at River Road.
Police said Mulligan was alone in the van.
In court Tuesday, Juneau District Attorney Patrick Gullufsen said the van's owner started it and went inside his home while it warmed up, only to find it missing when he returned.
He noted Mulligan's Sitka address, with no apparent ties to Juneau. Gullufsen told Levy there should be some bail in the case to ensure Mulligan will return for future court dates.
Mulligan told the judge he wanted to be represented by a public defender. When Levy asked him if he had been represented by a court-appointed attorney in the last 12 months, the defendant said he didn't want to answer any questions.
After a technical problem with Levy's microphone distorted one of his questions, Mulligan laughed and, using profanity, said it sounded "cool."
Levy set bail at $2,500.
Alaska Department of Corrections records show Mulligan was convicted in the Sitka drunken-driving case in November, said department spokesman Richard Schmitz. Mulligan was sentenced to serve 25 days in jail with another 95 days suspended.
Levy told Mulligan the maximum sentence for the new felony charge is five years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
Sitka has no state corrections center similar to Lemon Creek, Schmitz said. When a Sitka prisoner is sent to Lemon Creek, the state transports the prisoner north, he added.
Although Mulligan didn't head directly for Sitka, by department policy an inmate released from Lemon Creek who lives outside of Juneau would normally get "a ticket home," he added. Officials were unsure whether the inmate collected such a ticket before leaving Lemon Creek.
Tony Carroll can be reached at email@example.com