A horrific crime, a woman assaulted, and a perp walks free - Must Read Alaska
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Thursday, October 21, 2021
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A horrific crime, a woman assaulted, and a perp walks free

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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.

OUTRAGE GROWS

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.

It was a functionary who ended up on the front line defending Judge Corey’s actions:

“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.

[Read the State of Alaska’s press release defending the sentence here.]

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Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • So Skidmore claims that Schneider’s actions did not meet the criteria needed to convict as a sex crime, “but it [attending sex offender treatment] is clearly appropriate under the circumstances and will hopefully help him from doing more harm in the future.” (“Hopefully help” Schneider from reoffending? Oh pulleeaase!)

    By Skidmore’s own wording (“hopefully help him from doing more harm in the future.”) he is admitting that Schneider’s actions caused some amount of harm to the victim. So, does Alaska law now turn on the degree of harm caused rather than the criminal standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt?” God help us if this is true!!!

    Further, is this case going to create case law that will allow slimeballls (read sexual deviants) such as Schneider to freely roam our streets (and not be required to register as a sex offender) because he did not cause a high degree of harm to the victim??? I am willing to bet the victim impact statement would negate Skidmore’s assumption that Schneider’s actions caused her only a minable amoumt of harm.

    Judge Michael Corey’s acceptance of the plea deal, as well as his dismal ruling, just solidifies my belief that he needs to go back to law school and take a refresher on the long held criminal standard of of reasonable doubt.

    End of my criminal law epistle. I will look forward to hearing the opinions of others on Saturday.

  • While our Governor and Lt. Gov are commenting against the SCOTUS nominee and the assaults against women in our state, where are they on this? This is outrageous! I’m not a lawyer and maybe the law confines them, but what about an attempted murder charge? Wrapping your hands around the neck of a person until they are unconscious? Can’t that result in death? Maybe she is only the first person that actually called the police after this pig did this to someone. The Judge’s comments are inexcusable and the State’s defense of him weak. He gets a pass this time? Don’t do this again!? Isn’t that what you tell your four-year-old when he/she writes on the wall with crayons? I thought I read somewhere that they were unable to reach the victim to notify her that this scumbag was going to be released. I believe this notification is a requirement. That poor woman. The fear that she must have to this day. I hope some old school justice takes over on this guy. Oops.. did I say that out loud or was I just thinking it? No, not violence… Just Karma. Karma is coming Schneider and for you too Judge Corey at the voter booth.

    • The charge of Assault 2nd is the best fit for this case. There was a danger of death and certainly prolonged brain damage due to the damaged brain cells that can’t repair or be repaired. They are gone forever. However, it doesn’t rise to the level of attempted murder as he obviously only strangled her to the point of unconsciousness as he explained to her. He never indicated a desire for her to die from his actions.

  • “Beyond a reasonable doubt” in my understanding of law was in reference to what has to be proven to a jury. Because the perp plead guilty to the most serious charge of assault, the case wouldn’t go to trial. There was no reason to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

  • Here the judge can point to the specific sentencing range for the crime the perp pled to as a way to explain away the sentence. The judge can say his/her hands are tied. That is determinate sentencing. There may be a way, under Alaska law, for the judge to impose an exceptional sentence. I have no idea. But in the days of indeterminate sentencing 2nd degree assault could have rated a maximum sentence of, say, up to 10 years with the judge making the final decision based on the elements of the crime (like choking the victim and masturbating on the victim).

    These indeterminate sentences could also include a long term of formal parole supervision which, if violated, could result in return to prison until all 10 years had been served through a combination of prison & parole time.

    People sometimes complained that people got out on parole too early or that sentences were too long. But at least the appropriateness of a particular sentence couldn’t be blamed on a sentencing grid. The judge made the call & was personally accountable. But instead now we have this.

  • Let’s cut through the legalese and focus on what should be changed in the future. Second degree assault, in this case choking someone unconscious for sexual purposes should have a minimum ten year sentence. Tricking someone into accepting your offer of a ride and taking them somewhere else, is kidnapping.

  • I’ll be the heretic here; the prosecutor did a good job to get any plea from the guy at all. What is conspicuously absent in most of the reporting on this is the fact that the State didn’t have the alleged victim available as a witness; they couldn’t find her. There are only two witnesses to the alleged acts; one has a Constitutional right not to say a word about it, and the other isn’t available to testify. The cops can’t testify to anything she might have told them as that is hearsay. The only thing that might be admissible is any forensic evidence the cops might have gathered but there is hardly any way to relate any physical evidence to the alleged crime without her testimony.

  • I wish this were on the ballot in Fairbanks so I could vote against retention of this Judge. It is verdicts like this that continue to enable criminals and send the message that punishment for criminal activity is almost negligible. And a crime directly against a person … despicable crime, despicable sentence. 100 years ago he would likely have been hanged.

  • Do you have any stories on Identity theft and a particular one you know of, I would like to read it. It would be nice if there was a story with it like the one above the attorney wrote about the girl assaulted.

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