Prosecutor responds to inmate's mail complaint

Posted: Thursday, December 24, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Prosecutors in the Joshua Wade capital murder case say his efforts to get the case thrown out because of jailhouse mail errors is extraordinary and unwarranted.

In a response to the court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Skrocki wrote that Wade's motion was "leagues away" from justifying any court action.

In a motion filed Dec. 16, attorneys for Wade said jail officials have violated their client's rights by opening privileged mail three times since October.

The opened mail allegedly included a package marked in red ink with the words "Special legal mail. Open only in presence of inmate."

The court filing by attorney Suzanne Lee Elliott said the package was delivered with a note saying it had been opened by mistake.

The 29-year-old is accused of the 2007 torture and murder of his neighbor, nurse practitioner Mindy Schloss.

Skrocki wrote in his response Tuesday that no one from the prosecution's team has seen the contents of the mail and that the jail has fixed its error.

"Any further legal action should be filed in a civil suit outside the confines of this prosecution," Skrocki wrote.

The motions concerning jailhouse mail delivery are among a flurry of motions being filed before the Fairbanks trial begins in March. Most of the motions have to do with what will be allowed in the trial, essentially what jurors will be allowed to hear.

Jurors will decide if Wade is guilty and if he should get the death penalty.

Federal prosecutors are trying to allow jurors to hear what are called "aggravating factors" to justify putting Wade to death. According to court paperwork filed last week, those factors include a previous case in which a jury acquitted Wade in the death of another woman.

Wade is at the Anchorage Jail awaiting his trial.

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