Five years in prison for Juneau man in Valley chase

A Juneau man who led police on a high-speed chase through the Mendenhall Valley last spring was sentenced on Wednesday to just over five-years in prison.

27-year-old Devin W. Moorhouse was sentenced in Juneau Superior Court to four-years for failure to stop at the direction of a peace officer, one-year for assault, and six-months with five-months suspended for driving while intoxicated. All of the time is to be served consecutively.

Moorhouse entered guilty pleas in September in the case after reaching an agreement with prosecutors. Other charges of failing to stop, criminal mischief, and driving with a revoked license were dropped. Trial had been planned for October.

Moorhouse declined to say anything during Wednesday’s sentencing hearing. But Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg called him a menace to the community who needed to be isolated.

Moorhouse was driving a Chevy pickup that cut off a marked patrol vehicle near the McNugget intersection shortly before 11 o’clock on May 8th, a Tuesday. When the officer put on his lights to pull the truck over, Moorhouse took off and ran a red light at Egan Drive and Mendenhall Loop Road, then turned onto Riverside Drive and blew another red light at Mall Road. Officers stopped giving chase after Moorhouse accelerated to a high rate of speed and with Thunder Mountain High School and Riverbend Elementary School nearby.

Another officer later spotted the truck run another red light crossing Mendenhall Loop Road, from Mendenhall Blvd onto Valley Blvd. Police said the vehicle again failed to stop for officers, hitting a patrol car in the process, causing minor damage.

The truck then crossed back onto Mendenhall Blvd and turned onto Aspen Avenue, before hitting a tree at the corner of Aspen and Portage Blvd.

Moorhouse‘s blood alcohol content was measured at .327 percent, that’s over four times legal limit of .08 for operating a motor vehicle. Prosecutors say Moorhouse ignored pleas to stop by 33-year-old Corena Willard, a passenger who was injured in the crash.

Moorhouse has prior convictions for burglary and a probation violation.

Not quite remembering whether May 8th was a weekend day in which neighborhood children might be out playing, Judge Pallenberg said “things like this have many times ended in disaster that affected more than just a tree.”

In addition to the five-years and one-month to serve, Moorhouse will be on three-years probation, pay a $1,500 fine, have his driver’s license suspended for 90-days, and must use an interlock device when he’s allowed to drive again. He’ll also have to pay as-yet-unspecified restitution for the damaged police car and $1089.95 to remove and replace the dead Mountain Ash, estimated at 30-years old in the homeowner Kimball Knight’s yard at Aspen and Portage.

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