Northwest Digest

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2007

Chase ends in arrest of the wrong man

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ANCHORAGE - Police thought they were chasing a robber who sped out of a liquor store parking lot in Anchorage.

But 28-year-old Rory Elsdon turned out to be the wrong man, although he was still arrested on charges including reckless driving and felony eluding.

Elsdon, who took off from the parking lot minutes after it was robbed at gunpoint Wednesday night, led police on a high-speed chase that ended with officers laying down a spike strip and ramming his car off the street, police said.

"Turns out he's not the suspect, but he freaked out because he had drugs," police Lt. Paul Honeman said. "He was driving like a madman. This guy obviously needed to be off the road."

Meanwhile, authorities are continuing their search for what appears to be one man who robbed the liquor store and two banks over the past two weeks.

The most recent robbery occurred Thursday afternoon, when a gun-wielding man held up a Northrim Bank branch in South Anchorage. The man pulled a semiautomatic pistol on a teller and demanded money, fled the store into the driver's seat of a dark green Chrysler and sped off, said FBI Special Agent Dave Heller.

The suspect is described as a man in his mid-30s, about 6 feet 1 or 2 inches tall with a medium build. He has acne scars on his face, short black hair and a thin mustache.

That's almost exactly the same description as that of a man who robbed another South Anchorage bank Dec. 17.

"It looks like the descriptions are the same for the earlier robbery," Heller said. "We can't say for sure it's the same guy, but there are definitely similarities."

Knowles endorses Barack Obama

ANCHORAGE - Former Alaska Governor Tony Knowles says he's backing Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination for president.

Knowles says Obama is electable.

The two-term governor says Obama has a vision for tackling America's toughest challenges at home and abroad.

Knowles says that includes ending the war in Iraq, keeping promises to military veterans and making health care affordable.

Knowles also says Obama can reach across party lines and unite people to bring change.

Knowles served two terms as governor of Alaska from 1994 to 2002.

He sought a third term in 2006 and was defeated by Republican Sarah Palin in the 2006 general election.

Anchorage company to work on casino

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage company has won a contract with the Puyallup Tribe to work on the tribe's new casino in Tacoma, Wash.

WH Pacific Inc. - the new name of ASCG Inc. - will provide master planning and architectural/engineering design services for the casino, according to John Rense, WH Pacific president.

The project calls for a 150,000-square-foot casino on a 50-acre site along Interstate 5. It also calls for phased development of tribal buildings and a parking garage.

Construction is to slated to begin in 2009.

WH Pacific is owned by NANA Development Corp., the business arm of NANA Regional Corp., a Native corporation.

Woman, boyfriend charged in killing

SEATTLE - After slaughtering their parents, Joseph McEnroe apologized to his girlfriend's young niece and nephew before shooting both in the head to end a Christmas Eve massacre, prosecutors alleged Friday.

But even as they filed aggravated first-degree murder charges against McEnroe and Michele Anderson, prosecutors could not say what might have driven the couple in the violent killing spree.

"In the end, what motive could you find that would make sense of the senseless slaying of the Anderson family?" King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said in announcing the charges.

Anderson and McEnroe, both 29, were each charged with six counts of aggravated first-degree murder. Authorities say they have confessed. Conviction on aggravated first-degree murder in Washington is punishable only by death or life in prison without possibility of parole, and Satterberg said he would give "serious consideration" to the death penalty.

Telephone calls to public defender George Eppler, Anderson's attorney, and Devon Gibbs, McEnroe's lawyer, were not returned Friday.

In a Friday afternoon interview from jail with The Seattle Times, McEnroe said he regrets the deaths of his girlfriend's family members, but he did not admit to playing any part in killing them.

"I'm sorry that they're gone. They were my family, too, you know?" McEnroe told the newspaper.

"I hope wherever they're at, they're at peace. That's all I'm going to say about them."

He said jailers had placed him on a suicide watch.

According to court documents, Anderson said both of them shot her parents, brother and sister-in-law, while McEnroe killed the children. While long-standing bitterness and a perceived family debt might have been factors in the killings, the motive may never be known.

Domestic partnership law placed on hold

PORTLAND, Ore. - A federal judge on Friday placed on hold a state domestic partnership law that was set to take effect Jan. 1, pending a February hearing.

The law would give some spousal rights to same-sex couples.

Opponents asked U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman to intercede after the Oregon secretary of state's office ruled in October that they had failed to collect enough valid signatures on a referendum to block the law.

The Oregon measure covers benefits related to inheritance rights, child-rearing and custody, joint state tax filings, joint health, auto and homeowners insurance policies, visitation rights at hospitals and others. It does not affect federal benefits for married couples, including Social Security and joint filing of federal tax returns.

After the Legislature approved the domestic partnership law this year, gay rights opponents launched an effort to collect enough signatures to suspend the law and place it on the November 2008 ballot for a statewide vote.

But state elections officials said this fall that the effort fell 116 valid signatures short of the 55,179 needed to suspend the law.

In court Friday, Austin Nimocks, a lawyer for Alliance Defense Fund, which opposes the measure, said the state's review process was flawed, disenfranchising citizens who had signed petitions.

The state's largest gay rights group, Basic Rights Oregon, criticized the judge's decision.

"It's unfair our families once again are bearing the brunt of this ongoing struggle," said Jeana Frazzini, a spokesman for the group.

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