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.
- September 1, 2015- President Barack Obama met with leaders from the Alaska Native community while in Anchorage for the GLACIER conference.
- September 1, 2015- The president called Exit Glacier at Kenai Fjords National Park a "signpost" of climate change. It has retreated more than 800 feet since 2008.
- September 1, 2015- Across the state, businesses from banks to hotels to hardware contractors are named "McKinley." Now all those shops are left deciding if they need to rebrand.
- September 1, 2015- Obama also wants to work with Congress to plan for an expanded icebreaker fleet, “To ensure the United States can operate year-round in the Arctic Ocean,” he said.