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.
- For the second time in two years, a Skagway political figure has been ordered to pay a fine for incomplete financial disclosures. Assembly hopeful Dan Henry failed to disclose substantial debt on his candidate paperwork. He will still be able to run for office in the upcoming election.
- Administration officials have a mouthful of a name for it: the “capped hybrid head tax.” It's a flat 1.5 percent of wages and self-employment income, with a maximum of twice the value of that year's Alaska Permanent Fund dividend.
- A federal district court has sided with conservationists fighting to preserve the U.S. Forest Service's "roadless rule" that limits road building in national forests. Alaska conservationists opposed to expanded logging in Tongass National Forest hailed the ruling as a victory.
- Arizona Sen. John McCain is the second Republican to oppose the legislation, after Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul came out against it last week. If one more GOP senator is against the bill, it cannot pass.