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State puts an end to sentencing deals in serious crimes

State prosecutors will no longer negotiate plea deals for lesser sentences for Alaskans accused of serious crimes and domestic violence, the Alaska Department of Law said Tuesday.
The change of policy, which took effect Tuesday, bars plea bargains involving sentences for the most serious classes of felony cases, as well as all cases involving sexual assault, sexual abuse of a minor and domestic violence, said deputy attorney general Richard Svobodny.
A plea bargain is an agreement between a prosecutor and defendant in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty in exchange for a lesser charge or a more lenient sentence, avoiding a trial.
Nationally, between 90 and 95 percent of all criminal cases are settled through such agreements, according to a 2011 U.S. Department of Justice study. Attorneys say the statistic is roughly the same in Anchorage.
Under the new policy, prosecutors can offer defendants the opportunity to be charged with a less serious crime. But they can't offer a deal that changes the length of a sentence. Only a judge can do that.
The idea is that judges should be the ones determining sentences, not prosecutors or defense attorneys, Svobodny said.
Attorneys say the policy could flood already-stretched courts with criminal defendants exercising their right to trial and generate huge new costs for prosecution and incarceration, which would eventually be borne by the public.
"It's a major decision that's going to affect system-wide daily business in Anchorage courts," said Chester Gilmore, an Anchorage defense attorney.
"Our model of criminal justice initially started with judges making those sentencing decisions and it should be handed back to them," he said.
The change comes in the wake of a state review that shows prosecutors botched a 2009 plea deal involving accused killer Jerry Active. Active is the 24-year-old Togiak man accused of killing an elderly Cambodian couple -- Touch Chea and Sorn Sreap -- in their Mountain View apartment in May. He also is accused of sexually assaulting three generations of the family, including Sorn, a toddler and a 90-year-old woman.
Active had spent much of his adult life in the correctional system before the killings, which took place on the same day he was released from his latest stint in jail.
A state review found that prosecutors made an inappropriately soft plea agreement with Active in a 2009 case after failing to recognize that he had already been convicted of a felony, Attorney General Michael Geraghty said in June. A judge and the Department of Corrections both failed to recognize the plea agreement mistake.
The Active case became "part of the mix" in the decision to announce the new policy now, Svobodny said, although a change had been under discussion in the law department for more than a year.
"It's hard not to see this as a reflection of Jerry Active and that horrible tragedy," said Gilmore, a former attorney and supervisor with the Alaska Public Defender Agency who is now in private criminal defense and civil litigation practice.
Another influence was Gov. Sean Parnell's "Choose Respect" campaign. Parnell's office "worked closely" with the Department of Law on the change, said a spokeswoman.
The "Choose Respect" campaign has emphasized the prosecution of sexual offenders and domestic violence perpetrators. "We feel the policy will better protect victims and ensure perpetrators are held accountable for their crimes," Parnell spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said.
Both prosecutors and defense attorneys say the rule will inevitably lead to more trials.
Plea bargains aren't always appropriate but in many cases prosecutors and defendants agree they are the best way to resolve a case quickly and fairly, Gilmore said. The policy "takes away a lot of the reason anyone would have for not going to trial," he said.
"Obviously it will have an impact on the courts," Svobodny said.
In 1975, Alaska's then-attorney general banned all forms of plea bargaining. Dire predictions of system overload didn't pan out, though misdemeanor trials increased substantially in the immediate aftermath of the ban, a 1977 Alaska Judicial Council study found.
A 1990 judicial council study found that the ban had eroded and the practice was again commonplace.

www.adn.com (23-7-2013)
Michelle Theriault Boots
http://www.adn.com/2013/07/23/2987774/law-department-puts-an-end-to.html


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Alaska man who killed couple, raped tot released early from prison hours before: cops

Jerry Andrew Active, 24, seen in an undated photo, has been charged with double murder for allegedly 
killing two and raping a toddler on May 25

Anchorage, Alaska -- A 24-year-old man charged with killing an elderly couple and raping their 2-year-old great-grandchild had been released early from prison just hours before the attacks, state officials said on Tuesday.
Jerry Active was arrested on Saturday by police and has been charged in the murders of Sorn Sreap, 71, and her husband, Touch Chea, 73, and the rape of the toddler they were babysitting that night. Active is also charged with raping Sreap.
The elderly victims' bodies had signs of blunt-force trauma, but autopsies will determine the cause of death, the Anchorage Police Department said in a statement.
Active could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of the murders and rapes.
The toddler's parents returned from a movie to this Anchorage home and found Active naked in a bedroom with the child and the great-grandparents dead, Anchorage police said.
Active, who had pleaded guilty to breaking into a Dillingham, Alaska, home in 2009 and sexually assaulting a child and other residents, was released from prison on probation on Saturday morning after serving part of a seven-year sentence, said Kaci Schroeder, a spokeswoman for the Alaska Department of Corrections.
It was not immediately clear why Active was allowed to serve less than his full sentence. Schroeder said she did not have certain details about his case.
He was released from prison in Anchorage at 8:09 a.m. Saturday, about 12 hours before the crimes were reported, Schroeder said.
Jerry Andrew Active hides his face in jail. Even seasoned detectives were affected by the brutality of the crimes, a police department spokeswoman said.
The toddler's parents returned home from a movie and found the suspect naked in a bedroom with the child and the great-grandparents dead, said the Anchorage police statement. The parents confronted the suspect, but he escaped, police said.
Active was arraigned on Sunday, with bail set at $1.5 million, according to court records. A state judge on Tuesday scheduled a June 5 preliminary hearing.
A public defender for Active could not be reached for comment.
Active has a lengthy court record, with several misdemeanor arrests prior to the 2009 felony case. He was first released on the Dillingham case on October 2, 2011, but violated probation and was sent back to prison two days later, according to records Schroeder released.
Since then he has been in and out of prison after committing other probation violations, Schroeder said.

www.nydailynews.com (9-6-2013)
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/alaskan-rapist-spung-early-jail-cops-article-1.1357247#commentpostform


Pure evil: man savagely murders couple, rapes their 2-year-old great-granddaughter hours after jail release

Anchorage, Alaska (TheBlaze/AP) — A man suspected of beating an elderly Alaska couple to death and sexually assaulting their 2-year-old great-granddaughter over the weekend had been released from jail just hours earlier, according to Alaska Department of Corrections records.
Jerry Andrew Active, 24, was released from the Anchorage Correctional Complex where he was doing time for a probation violation shortly after 8 a.m. Saturday, according to the Anchorage Daily News. The attacks on the couple and the toddler occurred less than 12 hours later after he got into an apartment on the east side of the city by climbing in through an open window, police said.
Active was arrested after the couple’s grandson and his wife arrived home from a movie to find 71-year-old Touch Chea and his 73-year-old wife Sorn Sreap dead and the toddler being assaulted. The Associated Press typically doesn’t name victims of sexual abuse.
Active has been charged with murder, sexual assault, sexual abuse of a minor and burglary. A judge set his bail at $1.5 million on Sunday.
He has been “in and out” of jail since 2007, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Kaci Schroeder said Monday.
In 2009, he was arrested for sneaking into a Togiak home and attempting to sexually assault an 11-year-old girl while the family slept, then assaulting three members of the household, according to a report from Alaska State Troopers. Togiak is a mostly Alaska Native community of more than 800 people in western Alaska.
He was convicted the next year in a Dillingham court on charges of attempted sexual abuse of a minor and trespassing. He was released on Oct. 2, 2011 and put on probation. But Schroeder said he violated his probation repeatedly, sometimes being re-arrested on the very day he got out of jail.
From Oct. 2, 2011 to when police arrested him Saturday, Active had spent 18 days on the outside, according to a timeline released by the Department of Corrections.
“He messed up quickly and repeatedly,” Schroeder said, each time earning a new, short jail sentence.
On Saturday, he was released with an “approved housing plan,” meaning the Corrections Department knew where he was supposed to be living, Schroeder said. The same was true with each of his prior releases.
Active wasn’t required to report to a probation officer in person until the next business day, Schroeder said. That would have been Tuesday.

www.theblaze.com (28-5-2013)
Jason Howerton
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/05/28/pure-evil-man-savagely-murders-couple-rapes-their-2-year-old-great-granddaugher-hours-after-release-from-jail/









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