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  • Writer's pictureMyron Angstman

July 2019

Two major trials scheduled for later this summer have dominated the attention of ALO recently.  One involves an airplane crash near the village of Togiak, where the ALO client is the estate of a deceased passenger.  That case is set for August and should last a couple of weeks. The other involves a man injured by an explosion in a house in a nearby village, caused by a boiler that malfunctioned.  One part of that case settled recently when the company that made the boiler reached an agreement with the plaintiffs.  The remaining claim is against the local housing agency that administers HUD housing for the region.  That case is scheduled for September.  The injured party suffered serious burns and a persistent back injury that has prevented him from working since the accident, and has left him permanently disabled at a young age.  It is unusual anymore for ALO to have major trials scheduled back to back, but at least there is a two week break between them.

The worst ever back to back trial experience for ALO was in the late 70’s when there were two murder cases set back to back in Bethel.  There were two different judges involved, but the same DA and a young private attorney who likely didn’t know what he had signed up for.  As it turned out, some of the same jurors served on both cases, names that would surprise old timers in Bethel if they were included here.  It would be safe to say jury selection was not as tight then as it is now.  All trials are taxing, murder trials more so, and two murder trials on successive Mondays is off the charts.

The first trial ended with a lesser included verdict of negligent homicide on facts that would have supported acquittal, but also could have been viewed as murder. The result was fair, but a disappointment as well.  The next case had tougher facts but those facts did not come in as well as the District Attorney would have liked.  Among his issues was the loss of a video taped statement by the accused.  It was clear by mid-week that the state’s attorney was wearing down from the stress of the back to back trials.  A tough Fairbanks judge was in charge of the second case, and he cut neither side any slack, which was also taking a toll on the DA.  The judge was a former DA, and was harsh in his view of how the case was being presented. 

The end result was an acquittal, partly because those repeat jurors simply didn’t have enough energy left to convict two guys  in a row.  One memory from that case lingers.  The judge was rumored to pack a firearm under his robe, and he was clearly interested in the fact that the defense was one of protection of a home from an intruder. Immediately after the verdict the judge ordered the firearm used in the shooting returned to the defendant in the courtroom, along with ammo which was seized at the same time.  The judge urged the defendant not to load the weapon until he was outside.

That all happened Friday night, and there was good reason to unwind a bit.  A few of the jurors were nearby and joined in.  It was quite a night.

One other ALO case settled recently.  A young woman from the Bethel area was injured on a fishing vessel, and made a claim against the boat owner. Her injuries included a severe cut to her forehead.  This photo shows the cut but is trimmed to protect her privacy. The cut did not heal well, and future surgery will be needed to remove some of the scarring.

Enough legal stuff, on to Mother Nature.  This video shows a mama moose at her best protecting her baby. That qualifies as this month’s mandatory moose. Not sure why the poster called it an elk, but it is clearly a moose.

Former Bethelite Torie Foote posted this with the caption “what kind of hummingbird is this?”

Lamont Albertson found two dandy cartoons, on two favorite topics around ALO,  dogs and immigration.  If they don’t appeal to you, you likely need a new lawyer. 

Dolly is an excellent observer of the things that grow around Bethel   This photo captures a plant called English Sundew, a carnivores plant, which most people would never notice on the tundra. In addition to spotting things, Dolly does a good job taking photos

Former Bethel person Penny Lehmann posted this pie chart which sums things up pretty well.

Most people recognize that Fox news is generally favorable to Trump, and in turn he promotes their shows and  personalities.  His recent comments complaining about Fox reporting on its own poll that showed Trump trailing Biden by 10 points nationwide are  startling.  It seems he is asking Fox to adjust the polls to be more favorable to him. This story didn’t get much play, but Trump seems to believe Fox owes him favorable coverage for some reason.  No journalist is supposed to be a “proud warrior” for any candidate.  If he wants better polls, he should try appealing to a bit larger audience. 


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