Steven Down’s lead defense attorney Jim Howaniec spent much of the day questioning lead Alaska State Trooper cold case investigator Randy McPherron about the history of the investigation and how they handled gathering evidence.
The 12th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day free legal clinic is going virtual because of COVID-19. The event offers free consultation with attorneys regarding family law, housing law, public benefit law and other types of civil law.
The Alaska Supreme Court has once again issued an order delaying jury trials in the state. According to the order, the level of cases in the state and the lack of widespread COVID-19 vaccines until March makes starting trials, “unduly dangerous.”
The city of Fairbanks has appealed a 9th Circuit Court ruling to the United State Supreme Court. In January of this year, the 9th Circuit Court ruled that a group of men known as the ‘Fairbanks Four’ should be allowed to sue the city for wrongful conviction.
Camp Li-Wa, operated by Victory Christian Ministries, has been engaged in a multi-year legal fight with the Fairbanks North Star Borough over their tax exempt status for borough property taxes. Since 2018, the Borough has been requiring them to pay property taxes.
A Fairbanks man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter earlier this year has been sentenced to serve 10 years in prison for shaking his seven month old baby to death in 2018. James Jimieson, 24, was charged with first and second degree murder after his baby died in an Anchorage hospital from brain trauma due to being shook. Jimieson who deals with severe autism pleaded guilty to manslaughter after prosecutors offered the plea deal.
Martin Wayne Cook, 60, was convicted by a jury in 2019 of having sex with a minor between 2011 and 2013. He was found guilty of sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree and sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree. Investigators also charged him with sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree for abusing another victim in 2017. The jury found him guilty of that count as well.
After grand jury proceedings were allowed to continue in June of this year, the Fairbanks District Court has decided to once again temporarily suspend proceedings due to rising COVID case counts in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.
With 25 days till the November 2020 election, much of the focus is on who will lead the country for the next four years from the executive branch as well as the candidates hoping to represent Alaskans in congress and the legislature, but an often overlooked group of people who wield great power are on the ballot too — 22 judges are up for retention statewide.
Even though trials are resuming, they will look much different than before with social distancing and required masks. Some attorneys worry that these rules may make it hard to adequately represent their clients to a jury.
Since March, the Alaska Court System has put all jury trials on hold in their ongoing efforts to fight to the COVID-19 pandemic, some defense attorneys are worried their clients rights are being violated.
Peter Horace-Wright was allegedly shot to death by Ryder Alan Smith at a towing business in November of last year. The 11 minutes between the gun shots and Ryder Smith calling the police, Smith can be heard calling his father. Ryder Smith faces first degree murder charges, but Peter Horace-Wright's family is calling on the justice system to make Smith's father accountable as well.
According to a 10-page motioned filed in Fairbanks Superior Court, “Due process guarantees a criminal defendant the right to prepare and present a defense, and this due process right encompasses the separate constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel.” They claim this right is violated by the rule banning in-person visitation.
In an opinion issued Friday, the Alaska Court of Appeals ruled that law enforcement officers can not use technology such as cameras and drones to search from the air during an investigation without an arrest warrant.
Mark King, 51, of Fairbanks was handed down a 90 year prison sentence for multiple sexual crimes against minors. Judge Thomas Temple suspended 40 years of the sentence for a total time served of 50 years.