West enters not guilty plea to second degree murder

A tearful Ryan West was arraigned in Juneau Superior Court yesterday (Thursday), where he pleaded not guilty to second degree murder in connection with the death of 19-year-old Gabriel Carte.

The 25-year-old West was indicted by a Juneau Grand Jury a week ago. Public Defender David Seid entered the plea on West’s behalf.

“I’d ask the court to accept a not guilty plea and we would request a jury trial,” Seid said.

On June 6th, West and Carte were riding in a truck that flipped over multiple times at Mile 35 Glacier Highway. Carte was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. West was treated for minor injuries. Juneau Police said alcohol and excessive speed were factors in the crash, but at the time of the preliminary investigation it wasn’t clear who was driving.

The grand jury indictment charges West “did knowingly engage in conduct that resulted in the death of [Carte] under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to the value of human life.”

District Attorney David Brower asked for bail to be set at 500-thousand dollars. He noted that West was already on probation stemming from an earlier case where a 19-year-old woman was seriously injured after being dragged by West’s truck.

Judge Phillip Pallenberg agreed.

“I would make the comment that the amount of the bail is high not only because of the nature of this offense, but because of the nature of the previous offense in that it involved a person who was very seriously injured as a result of the operation of Mr. West’s vehicle,” Pallenberg said.

Pallenberg set a two-week trial to begin December 5th. The case was originally assigned to Judge Patricia Collins, who’s now retired. It will instead be presided over by incoming Judge Louis Menendez.