A jury is still considering charges filed against a Juneau man for stealing a truck and ramming it into the front of the Alaskan Brewing Company. Deliberations on charges against Michael Rae lasted 6 1/2 hours on Friday before jurors decided to go home for the weekend. Some of the questions submitted to the court included a request to hear an investigator’s testimony again and whether they could deliberate until courthouse closing hours.
Last April, employees of the Alaskan Brewing Company arrived at work to find the front door to the brewery’s gift shop and tasting room smashed in and several six-packs, a case, a few kegs of beer missing. A bumper was left behind that was traced to a truck apparently stolen from the nearby Lemon Creek Breeze-in store.
Police arrested 54-year old Rae at his residence in the Switzer Village trailer park where he allegedly unloaded the beer. But evidence obtained during execution of a search warrant at Rae’s trailer was declared inadmissible. Most of the prosecution’s direct evidence hinges on a disgruntled former roommate who was camping in his van near the trailer on the night of the burglary.
Repairs to the truck and brewery cost over $13,000. Value of the beer was appoximately $517.
The trial started on Monday with jury selection.
During closing arguments Friday morning, defense attorney Kevin Higgins said prosecutors have evidence of a crime, but no proof that Rae did it. The prosecution provided a shaky witness – that former roommate John McGillis — who could not consistently remember details.
“And because of that, he’s the weakest link in the case,” said Higgins. “And because of that, this unbroken chain of events does not link to Michael Rae.”
District Attorney Dave Brower on Thursday showed videotape of the Breeze-In truck going back and forth between the brewery and Rae’s residence in Switzer Village. He disputed the claim that his witness provided inconsistent testimony.
“John McGillis’s testimony, standing by itself, might be a hard pill to swallow,” admitted Brower during closing arguements on Friday. “But standing with those videos that corroborate everything that he told Detective (Krag) Campbell, points directly to Michael Rae.”
Rae’s disruptive behavior in the courtroom prompted recently-installed Superior Court Judge Louis Menendez to frequently warn him that the trial could be held without his presence. But there were no disruptions from Rae as the case was sent to the jury on Friday.
- The Flame Refluxer is essentially a big copper blanket: think Brillo pad of wool sandwiched between mesh. Using it while burning off oil yields less air pollution and residue that harms marine life.
- High schoolers tackled a serious topic at this year's annual student government conference: gun violence at school. They listened to a presentation from an organization called Sandy Hook Promise learned about their peers efforts to prevent gun violence on campus.
- Visitors to military bases who don’t have compliant IDs will have to be accompanied by military personnel, which the leaders say will be impractical.
- Southeast Alaska’s independent ferry system is working its way out of a ridership slump. Numbers are up on the Hollis-to-Ketchikan route.