ANCHORAGE - The man charged with shooting the trans-Alaska oil pipeline will be tried in Fairbanks, not Anchorage, a federal judge has ruled.
Daniel Lewis, 37, is charged with shooting the pipeline Oct. 4, puncturing the North Slope-to-Valdez line and causing a leak of about 285,000 gallons of crude oil - the second-largest oil spill ever from the pipeline.
Lewis' federal trial is scheduled to begin in Fairbanks on Jan. 28. The Livengood resident faces one felony charge of unlawful firearm possession by a felon.
Lewis' attorney, assistant federal defender Sue Ellen Tatter, asked for the move because Lewis is being held in the Fairbanks Correctional Center and because witnesses live near Fairbanks, according to court documents.
The federal gun charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Lewis has already pleaded not guilty to state felony charges of criminal mischief, assault and drunken driving. He faces misdemeanor charges of oil pollution and misconduct involving weapons.
The state trial date is also set for Jan. 28 in Fairbanks, but Kevin Burke, state environmental crimes prosecutor, said he expects pre-trial arguments to push the date back.
Tatter has asked U.S. District Judge John Sedwick to suppress statements Lewis made to state troopers immediately after his arrest.
According to transcripts, Lewis did not admit to the shooting, and he told troopers he was not near the pipeline when the shots were fired.
Lewis was apprehended by pipeline security officers shortly after the shooting, who turned him over to FBI agents and state troopers.
A trooper read Lewis his Miranda rights, including the right to remain silent and the right to the presence of an attorney. According to court papers, Lewis told the trooper he understood his rights and said he did not want to talk.
But troopers continued to question Lewis, who smelled of alcohol and had bloodshot eyes, and told him he was in trouble as they tried to get him to answer, according to Tatter's motion.