JUSTICE ON THE LAST FRONTIER
It’s your daughter. She’s at a Holiday gas station on Minnesota Drive and Spenard Road, and she’s trying to get a ride to Muldoon. Maybe she’s not using the best judgment. Maybe she should have known better.
Justin Schneider, an off-duty air traffic controller, decides to prey on her.
He picks her up, drives her not to Muldoon, but to Turnagain, strangles her until she passes out, masturbates on her and then, as any gentleman would, offers her a tissue to wipe off his semen, while he zips up his pants.
In court, a year later, Schneider walks free.
This is the actual case, even if she is not your daughter. She is someone’s daughter.
HE DID ALL THAT, AND HAD A TISSUE HANDY
According to reporting by KTVA, the young woman had never before met the Schneider, and she testified that she was not exchanging sex for drugs or money. She was looking for a ride. Schneider, in his white SUV, didn’t look like a crazed attacker.
But instead of going to Muldoon, where he agreed to transport her, once she was in the vehicle he said he needed to get something from another car, so he drove to 36th Avenue and Turnagain Street, where he had to take a detour due to road construction. He drove to Wisconsin Street, where he asked the woman to get out of the car while he loaded items into it.
FIFTY SHADES OF SICKO
Once she was out of the car, however, Schneider violently shoved her to the ground and choked her. He said he was going to kill her. She went unconscious, thinking she was dying. When she came to, she was covered with his semen, and there was Schneider, standing over her telling her he wasn’t really going to kill her, but he needed her to think he was; that was, he explained, how he liked to get off. He handed her the tissue.
Schneider, who is 34 years old, allowed the victim to get her backpack and cell phone, and she called the police as soon as he drove away, leaving her there on the street, according to KTVA.
This crime happened in August of 2017, on Wisconsin Street, the same street where a prostitute, Cheri Ingram, was stabbed to death in March of 2018 by someone who picked her up off a street corner in Spenard.
On Sept. 19, 2018 Superior Court Judge Michael Corey sentenced Schneider to two years, with one year suspended and one year of jail, but he received credit for time he had spent with an ankle monitor on, or under house arrest.
And so he walked free. He doesn’t have to register as a sex offender but he does have to have therapy as though he is one, part of the plea deal.
Part of the reasoning for the non-sentence is that he didn’t actually kidnap her. She got into the car willingly. And pleasuring himself over her unconscious body? That’s not a crime in Alaska.
The outrage at the news has been growing over the past two days, a result of the thorough reporting from Daniella Riviera, and due to the brushfire speed of social media.
A Facebook page calling for the non retention of Judge Corey now has more than 1,000 followers. Corey is up for retention on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Judge Corey accepted the plea deal, but he excused it this way, according to KTVA:
“Mr. Schneider is going to be a member of our community, and he would not be in jail for the rest of his life even if he had been convicted on all of the counts for which he was charged.”
He told Schneider, “This can never happen again.”
The prosecutor added his own two-cents, according to KTVA: “But I would like the gentleman to be on notice that this is his one pass,” Assistant District Attorney Andrew Grannick said. “It’s not really a pass, but given the conduct, one might consider that it is.”
Prosecutors don’t come up for retention in Alaska.
‘HIS ONE PASS’ WAS THE FINAL STRAW
Damage control went into full gear at the State of Alaska today, but it wasn’t Alaska’s Attorney General or Gov. Bill Walker who did the talking. They were staying far away from anything having to do with assaults on women, especially given the governor’s recent decision to oppose the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court due to a 35-year-old allegation.
“The Department of Law heard from a number of concerned citizens that the sentence imposed was too lenient. Criminal Division Director John Skidmore independently reviewed the case and concluded the sentence was consistent with, and reasonable, under current sentencing laws in Alaska,” the press release said.
“Mr. Schneider plead guilty to one count of assault in the second degree, a class B felony in Alaska, in exchange for the State’s dismissal of the remaining charges – notably, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree harassment. The State dismissed the most serious charge based on the conclusion that the State would be unable to prove the kidnapping at trial. Kidnapping requires that the victim be ‘restrained’ or moved against his or her will. Additional investigation determined that the victim willingly got into Mr. Schneider’s vehicle and willingly drove with him to the location of the assault. Under these circumstances, the criminal charge of kidnapping (as defined under Alaska law) could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Schneider tricked the victim. He moved her to a place where he could commit a crime against her, a crime she had no idea he was going to commit.
Tricking a victim is, in itself, not a crime, according to the State. At least, it wasn’t a crime the State was willing to pursue.
Schneider was convicted of only the most serious crime that the State wanted to charge him with: second-degree assault. With no prior criminal record, the sentencing range was zero to two years in jail.
The judge had no choice, Skidmore said.
“Though it is understandable that some feel his sentence was not sufficiently harsh,” Skidmore said in a quote from the Department of Law, “All prosecutors are ethically required to follow the law, no matter how disturbing the facts may be.”
Further, he said that offensive physical contact with bodily fluid such as semen is not categorized as a sex crime under Alaska law.
Yet the prosecutor felt Mr. Schneider needed some kind of sex offender treatment, and so that was set forth in the probation agreement.
The Department of Law said that the prosecutor’s word choice, of Schneider getting a “pass,” was “unfortunate and misunderstood.”
The prosecutor, the State said, was explaining that while the sentence seems lenient, it was consistent with current Alaska law and “based on a thorough review of the facts of case.”
“The aggressive prosecution of violent crime – especially violence against women – has always been, and remains, a priority for us,” said Skidmore. “In this case, attending sex offender treatment is important. His actions may have not technically qualified as a sex offense, but it is clearly appropriate under the circumstances and will hopefully help prevent him from doing more harm in the future.”
ORGANIZING MEETING FOR NON RETENTION OF JUDGE
A group will meet at 4 pm on Saturday in Anchorage at the Writer’s Block Bookstore & Cafe.
Discussion will center on how hard to push for a “vote no” on the retention of Judge Corey.