Press Releases

06/21/16 DPS PR# 16-029

Sheep Poacher to Serve Jail Time

(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) – Last week Alaska Wildlife Troopers closed out an investigation into the illegal killing of three Dall Sheep from a drainage 20 miles back on the East Fork of Kings River. The case closed with a guilty plea to five counts from James Randall Wyatt, 58 of Palmer. Upon pleading guilty to Wanton Waste, two counts of taking a Sublegal Sheep, Illegal Possession and attempted Evidence Tampering, Wyatt was sentenced to pay a composite fine of $17,200 with another $35,000 suspended and to serve ten active days in jail with two and a half years suspended. The suspended jail time and fine may be imposed if Wyatt commits any jailable offense or fish and game offenses in the next five years. As a part of his sentencing, Wyatt also forfeited his rifle used and he may not apply for a hunting license for five years.

In late August of 2015, Alaska Wildlife Troopers were contacted by a man reporting he and a hunting partner witnessed another man, later identified as Wyatt, shoot two sheep. The witness later encountered Wyatt leaving the area without any animal. It was clear to the witness that the sheep had not been harvested. When Alaska Wildlife Troopers responded to the area they found one of the sheep fully intact buried beneath a rock pile. The second animal was found in the open. While the animal had been preyed upon by other wildlife, there were no signs that the sheep had any part of it salvaged by a hunter. Both sheep were sublegal.

In September of 2015, Fish and Game contacted Alaska Wildlife Troopers to inform them that a man was in its Palmer office getting a sheep sealed but the sheep was sublegal. The sheep was brought in by Wyatt. At the time, Wyatt told responding Wildlife Troopers that it was the only sheep he had ever shot.

“In the drainage where these sheep were poached there are typically only about one or two legal sized Dall Sheep every hunting season, and that is in a good year” said Captain Rex Leath, Commander of the Northern Detachment for the Alaska Wildlife Troopers. “There are not a lot of sheep up there. These illegal kills have essentially eliminated legal sheep out of the valley and nixed legal hunting for the next two to three years.”

Ultimately, the case went to the Office of Special Prosecutions and, after about a 10-month investigation, was closed out with a plea deal.

“This was one of the most egregious cases I have worked on in almost twenty years and it might never have happened if it weren’t for ethical hunters coming forward to help,” said Trooper John Cyr, an Alaska Wildlife Trooper that worked the case. “They not only reported the kills but provided valuable information which proved critical in identifying the person responsible. Poaching hurts animal populations as well as puts ethical hunters, who put in time and dedication to follow the hunting regulations, at a disadvantage.”

Wildlife violations can be reported anonymously through the Wildlife Safeguard website at   http://dps.alaska.gov/awt/safeguard.aspx. Violations can also be directly reported at any Trooper Post.

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06/10/16 DPS PR #16-028

Public Safety Training Academy to Graduate 18 Law Enforcement Officers

(SITKA, Alaska) –Eighteen Law enforcement officers from around the state will graduate from the Public Safety Training Academy in Sitka today. The 1 p.m. graduation ceremony at the Sheet’ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi Tribal Community House concludes Alaska Law Enforcement Training (ALET) Session No. 16-01. The 18 new officers went through 900 hours of training in the 15-week basic ALET. The training incorporates intensive instruction in law enforcement-related topics, physical fitness and many scenario-based exercises – all designed to prepare entry level police officers, village public safety officers and troopers for a successful career in Alaska law enforcement.

The graduates are:
Buck Bazinet, Central Council Tlingit & Haida (VPSO)
Phillip Christman, Kodiak Police Department
Joshua Huskey, Hoonah Police Department
Nathaniel Lecours, Kotzebue Police Department
Katelyn Lovvorn, Juneau Police Department
Austin McAvoy, Homer Police Department
Jesse Noel, Northwest Arctic Borough (VPSO)
Joseph Notti Sr., Tanana Chiefs Conference (VPSO)
Benjamin Page, Craig Police Department
Eddy Ramos, Bethel Police Department
Laura Reid, Alaska Wildlife Troopers
Benjamin Shryock, Kodiak Police Department
Sawyer Skiba, Wasilla Police Department
Christopher Stewart, Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association (VPSO)
Michael Tanner, Tanana Chiefs Conference (VPSO)
Joshua Taylor, Kenai Police Department
Michelle Tibbetts, Kotzebue Police Department
Nathaniel Titus, Tanana Chiefs Conference (VPSO)

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06/07/16 DPS PR #16-027

Memorial Day Weekend CIOT Statistics

(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) – The Alaska State Troopers and Alaska Wildlife Troopers have completed the annual Memorial Day Weekend Click It or Ticket High Visibility Enforcement Effort, which started May 23.

From 5/23/2015 thru 6/5/2016, troopers conducted the following investigations:
  
  - 37 misdemeanor DUI arrests, 6 felony DUI Arrests
  - 60 drivers charged with driving with a suspended or revoked license
  - 91 REDDIs reported with 26 drivers contacted and ultimately determined not to be DUI
  - 63 damage-only crashes 17 injury crashes and 4 fatal collisions were investigated by troopers
  - Of the 1565 citations issued, 684 were issued for speeding and 295 issued for seatbelt or other occupant restraint violations

Please continue doing your part in keeping our roadways safe by not driving impaired. Additionally, don’t hesitate to make a REDDI report any time of the year by calling 911. To learn more about REDDI (Report Every Dangerous Driver Immediately) visit http://www.dot.alaska.gov/stwdplng/hwysafety/REDDI.shtml.

Funding for the High Visibility Enforcement Campaign was funded by grants distributed by the Alaska Highway Safety Office.

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06/07/16 DPS PR #16-026

DNA Collected in Alaska Helps Solve a Washington Case

(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) – At the end of May 2016, a man was arrested in Washington for a crime committed over a decade ago. At the time of the crime, his sperm was recovered from a rape victim. Investigating law enforcement officers couldn’t find a match after it was entered into a DNA database called Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). The man’s DNA, which had been collected in 2015 after he was accused of committing a felony crime in Anchorage, identified him as the previously unknown suspect.

“While DNA testing is not the answer in every case, the CODIS database continues to play a significant role in our criminal justice system,” said Michelle Collins, Alaska State CODIS Administrator. “DNA hits in CODIS have been known to provide new information in decades old investigations allowing once cold cases to be further investigated and potentially solved.”

Alaska Statute 44.41.035 went into effect on January 1, 1996, requiring persons who were convicted of a felony or felony attempt under AS 11.41 (crime against a person) to provide the Alaska Department of Public Safety with a DNA sample. These samples are analyzed at the state crime lab and entered into CODIS. The database also contains DNA profiles from crime scene evidence. The profiles are searched against each other in the hopes of generating investigative leads that would solve crime.

The Department of Public Safety Crime Detection Laboratory began entering samples into its DNA database in August of 1999. These profiles were also uploaded to a national database, administered by the FBI, where they can be searched against profiles contributed from other public crime labs across the country.

In 2001, Alaska had its first database match. DNA profiles from two sexual assault cases with an unknown suspect were matched to each other. The source of those profiles was later identified when they matched a third case, this time with a known suspect. The following year, the state’s first national hit occurred when a profile from a homicide case was matched to an offender in Oregon.

Since its inception, Alaska’s law has been expanded to include persons convicted of misdemeanor crimes against a person and felony property crimes, persons required to register as a sex offender and in 2007, adults arrested for a crime against a person or a felony property crime. To date, CODIS has aided nearly 600 investigations in the State of Alaska. Nationwide, that number is over 300,000.

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