Dad takes custody of driver accused of probation violation

Tyler Emerson will likely step out of Lemon Creek Correctional Center Friday morning. His attorney successfully applied for Emerson’s release Thursday afternoon with Emerson’s father acting as a third-party custodian. Emerson will help his dad as a crew member during the upcoming commercial salmon trolling season. But the judge in the case ordered Emerson to be held in jail overnight until just before their boat leaves for the Yakobi Island area later Friday.

His family also had to put up $2,500 cash. That’s down from the $20,000 bail set by another judge last week.

Emerson must be within 24-hour sight or sound of his father, not get behind a wheel of a highway vehicle, and not touch alcohol. Once the summer trolling season is over, Emerson must return to jail and await an adjudication hearing in late September.

Emerson was pulled over by police officers last week, allegedly going 72 miles an hour in a 45 zone on North Douglas Highway. He had allegedly had two bottles of alcohol and two passengers in the vehicle, and allegedly had a .049 blood alcohol content. That’s under the legal limit of intoxication, but any possession or consumption of alcohol would be a violation of Emerson’s probation.

Carol White, mother of Taylor White who was killed in an accident with Emerson three years ago, said Emerson called her from jail after he was arrested last week.

“He said ‘Carol, I have tell you something really awful. I screwed up,'” recounted White. “‘I have screwed up what we have worked for for the last three years.'”

Emerson was convicted of criminally negligent homicide for being intoxicated behind the wheel during a crash out the road. tTaylor White was one of two passengers in vehicle. Emerson accepted responsibility and was sentenced to six years in prison with five years suspended and one year to serve.

Emerson and White had just graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School before the accident.

Emerson worked closely with the White family and the Taylor White Foundation to produce a short documentary and warn other Juneau teenagers about the dangers of drinking and driving.

White said she probably didn’t fully understand how much Emerson has been struggling.

“We’ve began to incorporate in our Foundation presentations that you don’t have to make that good decision just once,” said White. “You have to make it hundreds and hundreds of times, and that is really hard in our little community.”

Attorney Jeffrey Sauer says there’s more to the story than just a simple probation violation and he suggests that previous alcohol treatment may have left at least one issue unresolved. Taylor’s mother Carol White thinks it may have been the trauma from the accident and the death of his friend.

“I don’t think that we quite recognized how to deal with that, or he recognized (that), or the people that were his support group,” said White.

Emerson’s family and some family friends attended Thursday’s bail hearing. It was presided over by Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg, who said the sentencing hearing for Emerson two years ago was still “vividly etched” in his mind. Judge Pallenberg believes the conditions of Emerson’s release will assure his future appearances in court while also assuring the safety of the community. Even though it would likely disrupt Joseph Emerson’s fishing season, he’s to call troopers immediately if Tyler Emerson ever touches alcohol.

Emerson’s adjudication hearing has been moved to September 26th.

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