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  • Writer's pictureMyron

August 2018

The August news is brought to you from the Wood-Tikchik branch of ALO, where the moose hunting season is underway amidst stunning fall colors and weather. A long stretch of sunny calm weather is unusual for this time of year, and this stretch makes up for a few weeks of rainy weather in July and August. Fishing for Dolly Varden has been good all summer, and one big problem has been catching one small enough to eat as all the larger ones are returned to the lake. The fish have routinely topped 5 pounds with several in the 8 or 9 pound range. Bears have been slow to arrive and are likely less abundant, but this guy seems to enjoy the internal fat from a moose, left behind after harvesting on the beach.

This fat guy seems to know he is being filmed.

Animal tracks are part of most every stop on the lake. Recently on one sand bar, moose, caribou, wolverine and bear tracks were spotted. Of course now those tracks are joined by the tracks of a high energy bird dog.

There have been quite a number of visitors at the cabin this summer. One famous visitor was Bethel's Ninja Warrior Nate DeHaan who brought his company's plane for the weekend. Nate has a habit of sitting on his phone in the plane which is used for communication with his company while flying. When he arrived, he slipped out of his seat to secure his float plane and the phone slipped out with him. This shot shows him searching for the phone in his underwear from a paddleboard.

He found it and dove for it, and it still worked. Nate rescues more than just phones. When he found an old time Bethel pilot hung up in wind and thick grass trying to park in Hangar Lake, he waded out and pulled to boat to the dock. What a Ninja.

Angstman Law Office no longer does felony trials, concentrating now on civil cases and a few misdemeanors. A recent call for representation on a murder case, which was referred to another attorney, brought to mind some memorable murder cases from the past. Three are worth recalling. Two of those came in back to back trials, each lasting a week. The trials were in Bethel, and the jury panels were very similar for both cases. The first resulted in a reduced finding of manslaughter in a case that actually seemed stronger than the second case which resulted in an acquittal. Many of the jurors later suggested they were so drained from back to back trials they had little energy to convict in the second case. The Fairbanks judge who handled the second case must have believed the defendant was innocent. Moments after the jury was released he ordered that the seized handgun which was used in the shooting be returned to the defendant right in the courtroom. It was later learned that the judge was a serious gun supporter who wore a handgun under his robe while in court.

It was a later murder case that resulted in the most satisfaction. A young lady from a village was charged with killing her older brother with a knife stab to the chest. There were early indications that the brother had sexually abused her throughout her teen years, and that she finally decided to do something about it. Early in the case, this theme was presented to the Judge Chris Cooke in support of a request for release on bail. Both the court and the DA noted that the facts seemed to suggest that there was no actual sex abuse on the night of the murder and bail was kept very high.

On the first day of trial, the defendant showed up dressed in Bethel jail attire, which at that time was a poorly fitting jump suit. The defendant was a smallish woman, and the jump suits were designed for men, so hers fit horribly. By that time she had been in jail six months, and she looked like it, staring at the floor and beaten down without a friend in the world. The DA asked the judge to order ALO to provide more appropriate clothing for the young woman. The judge said it seemed improper for an attorney to allow a client to appear in court looking so poorly. The response went something like this: "Your honor, the court and the DA were both adamant that this woman remain in jail until her trial, and now they want that fact to be concealed by replacing her jail clothing with something better. We can't tell the jury the defendant has been in jail this whole time, but one look at her and they will know."

The trial was hotly contested. The defense was able to show that the brother's normal conduct was to get drunk every couple weeks in the house he shared with his sister and the rest of the family. He would wait until everyone went to bed and then sneak in her room and rape her. He had scared her badly enough that she was afraid to cry out This night when he got drunk the 16 year old, being tried as an adult, was ready for him. When he entered her room he was met with a knife in the chest. The state argued there was no actual sex assault, but the defense did establish his past conduct through witness testimony, and she was found not guilty. It was the only time in more than 40 years of trials that ALO was able to win a case at trial for someone who was being held in jail. One can only hope the pathetic jail costume she wore helped the jury overcome what probably should have been a sentiment to find her guilty of some lesser charge than murder. A strong argument was made that the young woman should be released in the courtroom rather than return to the jail to be released. The court, still stinging a bit from the clothing argument, said that was not possible cause she was wearing prison clothing and needed to be released from custody through the normal process at jail. Former ALO attorney Cathy Connelly helped put that case together and first suggested it was a winnable case. She was late for work the next day, but so was her supervisor.

The recent death of Burt Reynolds came shortly after a national magazine drew an unusual, and improbable, comparison that involved ALO. A free lance reporter for Men's Journal traveled to remote Kivalina to experience Arctic living for a few weeks a while ago, and wrote about his experience. One such experience was going caribou hunting with a local man. During the hunt, caribou were located and the local man handed the rifle to the writer and said "You shoot". The writer, a non-hunter, complied, and managed to harvest a caribou which was taken to the village and shared about. The writer failed to appreciate that his act was illegal, and proceeded to include that incident in an article. Alaska game wardens keep an eye on those kind of articles, and soon the writer was facing charges in Kotzebue. That's where ALO comes in, and the rest of the story is well presented in this follow up article which appeared in the same magazine in August. Now it may be difficult for readers of this page to imagine a paragraph in a national publication that contains the words Myron Angstman and Burt Reynolds, but there it is. Hopefully it didn't contribute to Burt's demise.

Speaking of caribou, here is an inviting law office in the Soldotna area.

And here is this month's mandatory moose, posted by Rahn Parker. This is neighbor Matt Scott with a long pike he caught on a trip to ALO's secret fishing hole.

And one of those fat Dollies mentioned above.

Sunset turned 16 in August and has many notions about fashion and social issues that puzzle an elder. Recently she was discussing one such issue with Sue when she announced "This is 2018. We have evolved."


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